Monday, January 18, 2010

You Can't Play In The Majors With A Wiffle Ball Bat

When I would step up to our makeshift baseball stadium (conveniently located in my front yard) I would clutch that banana bat and wait for the wiffle ball to head my way. With the imaginary crowd chanting my name I would imagine myself as Pete Rose or Don Drysdale just waiting for the perfect pitch and a chance to win the big game.

I was a dreamer. As I got older I was a master at wiffle ball, so much so that most of my friends lost interest in ever trying to catch a ball that I hit. They would insist that I should go try out for baseball or at least let's all get real baseball equipment but I wouldn't have any of it. Wiffle ball was fun, it was easy and I figured that with that bat in hand I was unstoppable. And I was - on the wiffle ball field.

I remember hearing about a bunch of guys that played baseball on the playground at our school. Since I was so used to smoking the neighborhood kids I was ready to step up to the next level and go check out these other fellas. I jumped on my pale blue super chromed out sears bicycle and headed down to the playground. When I arrived, trusty banana bat in hand, I suddenly realized that these boys were not in my league. These guys were not only playing real baseball but had official bats and balls to go along with it.

I sheepishly got of my bike still clutching my yellow bat like my wooby and cautiously walked over. There were snickers, there were laughs and for some boys no older than the age of 8, some pretty off-colored remarks. I had brought the equivalent of a knife to a gun fight and these boys were in no mood to tussle.

I never attempted to learn to play baseball in part because of that experience. Not because I didn't like the game but because I wasn't nearly as committed to learn to play the real baseball as I had been with wiffle ball. In the end it just seemed too hard and uncomfortable.

There's literally half a dozen lessons I could share with you on this story alone. However the one that sticks out most is the simple fact about playing it safe. You see wiffle ball came easy to me and because it did I played the hell out of it. There isn't a wiffle ball that could be thrown my direction that I couldn't smack clean out of the park (which was the neighbors front yard across the street). I spent all this time mastering a skill for a game that at the end of the day most kids lost interest in. You see those who really had a passion for the game went on to play something more challenging, something more realistic.

With no hope of going pro in wiffle ball I hung it up. I quit. Something I sort of regret to this day. I quit because going away from something that felt so comfortable and right just seemed too daunting and out of reach for me and looking back that is too bad.

To be truly successful in something we have to continually push ourselves to want to get better. We can't just play wiffle ball because baseball might be too hard or we might not be as good. We have to push forward and try new things, develop new skills and adapt in order to find success. Otherwise we become masters of a game that people no longer play and in the end what fun is that?

Put down the wiffle ball bat and go grab your Louisville Slugger - coach is putting you in!

Ripple On!!!

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