I love baseball.
My only explanation for that is that I am from St. Louis. How
could I grow up in St. Louis and not come out a baseball fan?? I am not sure it is even possible.
Not only do I love going to the games, keeping score (or sometimes not!), eating a plain hotdog – no mustard or ketchup here! – and having a Budweiser, but I love using baseball as a metaphor for life. Ever since my son started playing (and yes, I was one of those moms who had him in t-ball at the tender age of 4), I have come to realize just how many lessons baseball can afford us in our every day lives.
When my son was 7 or 8, he graduated to kid pitch. This follows hitting the ball off the tee and then coach pitch. He quickly figured out that if he just stood at home plate with the bat on his shoulder, he would get walked about 90% of the time. These kids were terrible! These were probably the most excruciating years of baseball. I know they have to learn somehow, but sitting in the stands watching all after walk after walk becomes just painful.
But he learned there was no reason to swing the bat and risk missing the ball. So he didn’t. If he struck out, he struck out standing. And how convenient was that?? He could not feel too badly because, after all, he did not even try.
It didn’t take me long to figure out I needed to put an end to this mindset immediately. So the coaches and I (thank you coaches!!) worked with him by emphasizing the importance of swinging the bat. That was more important than getting on base. In a desperate effort to try to get him excited about the risk, I found myself saying things like “You’ve got to take control,” “You’ve got to participate – don’t just be passive, “Get in the game and play,” “You might miss but you will never hit a home run if you don’t swing the bat,” etc. Pretty soon I was talking to myself.
After my divorce when my son was only three, I had figuratively (not literally but meaning figuratively – what is that about anyway?!) stopped swinging the bat. Oh, I came up to the plate. And I waited to see what life threw at me. And I did not do much fighting back. I just hoped I would get a walk.
But I kept encouraging James. And one day, he stood at the plate. And he swung the bat. It played out just as it should. He ran for a double. His smile was infectious. Th drive home focused on the lack of emotion a walk provides verses the elation to have hit the ball and run the bases. It was so worth the risk, he concluded. Yes. I love baseball.
I was thinking about this because I went to an event yesterday, “Pitching to Perfection” put on by Los Angeles Film and TV. One of the great things about being in Los Angeles is being able to take advantage of the multitude of groups like this! And it just got me thinking.
My son is a pitcher. In practice, he only practices pitching – no hitting, no fielding. Just pitching. He is a relief pitcher, so he really does not know when he will be called to the mound. He has to be prepared to be called at any moment. But that’s ok. He has thrown each of his pitches so many times that he can pull them out at will. The coach can call whatever he wants. It’s ready.
This is what I learned yesterday. I also need to be ready to be called in to pitch at a moment’s notice. I have no idea when I might meet someone who could actually be in a decision-making position. My pitch has to roll off my tongue without any thought – just naturally. Much like pitchers rely on muscle memory. And I need to get focused. I have written and rewritten a longline or an elevator pitch dozens of times. My screenplay hasn’t really changed, but I have not made a decision on my pitch. So I find myself winging it most of the time.
I am going to take a break from revising my screenplay and work on this. And memorize this. And perfect this. So that I can get called up at a any time. Plus, I know that the clearer I am on my pitch, the clearer I will be in my writing.
And I do have another baseball story, but I will save that for another day. Right now, I have work to do. And find groups such as LAFTV. I found them on meetup.com. There are a ton of groups in LA, but it is probably a safe bet that you can find a group in just about any town. Or, which is the whole point of meetup, you can start your own group and find some like-minded people.