I love baseball…the crack of the bat, the popcorn, the crowd cheering, the competition, the team spirit, the green grass, and the history of the game. I love everything about it! While growing up, I was a huge fan of Cal Ripkin and the Baltimore Orioles. I collected baseball cards and watched as many games as I could. Going to Camden Yards in 2004 was the realization of a lifelong dream. Standing in the home dugout was surreal. I felt like I was literally dreaming! Go O’s! I have a deep respect for the game and the strategy that goes on between the white lines unobserved by the casual fan.
One of the things I enjoy watching when it comes to strategy is the interplay between the catcher and the pitcher. The catcher gives the pitcher a sign using his hands. The pitcher knows what pitch to throw as a result. Clear communication between the tandem is imperative. I like trying to guess the next pitch. For example, is it going to be a fastball, breaking ball, or change up?
One of my favorite pitches to watch a pitcher throw and a bewildered batter try to hit is a curve ball, also known as a type of breaking ball. Curve balls can make grown men look like T-Ball players as they swing and miss. What makes a curve ball so difficult to hit?
Here is the best answer I could find from the following website: http://www.exploratorium.edu/baseball/curve.html
“A major league curveball can veer as much as 171/2 inches from a straight line by the time it crosses the plate. Over the course of a pitch, the deflection from a straight line increases with distance from the pitcher. So curveballs do most of their curving in the last quarter of their trip. Considering that it takes less time for the ball to travel those last 15 feet (about 1/6 of a second) than it takes for the batter to swing the bat (about 1/5 of a second), hitters must begin their swings before the ball has started to show much curve. No wonder curveballs are so hard to hit.”
So, a curve ball doesn’t overpower the hitter, it deceives them. Interesting! The ball appears to be coming in towards home plate on a straight line and then the bottom falls out! Sounds a lot like life at times…
My mentor coach, Cheryl Scanlan (www.wayoflifecoaching.com), has been thrown a few curve balls in life. However, she always seems to stay in the batter’s box long enough to foul off enough pitches and get a great hit. Her ability to do so is not natural…it is supernatural! I remember asking her what helps her focus when she is staring a curve ball in the face. She shared two questions with me that she asks herself: 1) what are the facts? and 2) what can I be thankful for in this situation? Powerful questions that I started practicing in my own life!!
When I am in the batter’s box of life facing 98 miles an hour heat and erratic tunneling curve balls, these questions help me to gain clarity and focus on my vision, instead of the circumstances surrounding me, like the crowd roaring or the fear of striking out.
The first question, what are the facts, helps me to recalibrate so to speak. I can tease the facts from the emotions, which allows me to make better decisions. Most decisions made when you are emotionally engaged, turn out to be wrong. When you are able to see the facts or the truth of your situation separated from your emotional involvement in the situation, the picture becomes so much clearer.
The second question, what can I be thankful for in this situation, helps me to reposition my current situation in light of my whole life and beyond. There is always something to be thankful for in every situation. Even on the darkest days of my life, I am a very blessed woman and when I raise my arms in thanksgiving, my current situation takes on a different hue.
By incorporating these questions into my life, I have discovered that I am much more patient and respond to situations instead of react to them. Similarly, when a batter is facing a curve ball, patience is his best friend. Since we cannot avoid the curve balls of life, I leave you with a question to ponder. Are you in the dugout, bracing yourself for the next curve ball or are you in the batter’s box, bat in hand, preparing to knock it out of the park?