Play Ball!

A friend of mine went to the Chicago Cubs’ opening day game. That’s a big deal in Chicago. The Cubs are a big deal. Especially with this year marking their 100th anniversary at the world-famous Wrigley Field! Being at opening day is a ritual for thousands and thousands of folks who take off time from work and school to watch their beloved Cubbies try again. “There’s always next year”—that’s the diehard Cubs’ fan mantra. But next year is now…this season. Let’s see what happens!

For true-blue, devoted Cubs followers, hope never wavers —it may get bruised and battered, but it never wavers. A couple of weeks ago, nearly 40,000 brave souls sat outside despite 40-degree temperatures, walloping wind gusts, gray skies, and rain. Did they care? Not enough to keep them away from cheering their beloved boys on the field of battle. GO CUBS!

While I’m not quite that zealous, I do like the Cubs and the game of baseball itself. My mother, in her day, knew every single player and deeply loved Harry Carey. They wore the same glasses, my mother and Harry. Three generations later, my firstborn grandson, Ethan, is a loyal, committed Cubs fan—he knows EVERYTHING. Ask him—he knows. I grew up hearing about the Cubs from my mom (not my dad), and now I love watching Ethan carry forward that same dedication, enthusiasm, and hope his grandmother had. I pray the Cubs win it big for Ethan and my mom; they both deserve that World Series trophy. This year!!

For me, the game of baseball is a metaphor for the game of life (you know me, so you probably saw that one coming, right?). You strategize and plan for the best outcome, and sometimes you win…sometimes you lose. Whatever the Cubs’ problems, they won’t solve them by retreating from the game. At times, It might seem like the players are beaten down (and they very well could be), but they never hide from the responsibilities they have to their teammates, the owners, themselves, or their fans. They keep on keeping on…going and going (and going and going) until the end of the season…and even then, “there’s always next year.”

The true Cubs fan never gives up on the game. What the true Cubs fan gives up is, instead, a negative, pessimistic perspective of what could be. True Cubs fans say, “This could be THE YEAR”…and they believe it! They hope for it! They wait for it!

To stick with my baseball-life metaphor, let’s imagine the pitcher as life itself. You and me, we’re the hitters, the batters. The pitcher’s not going to go easy on us. He’s not throwing safe, easy balls for us to knock into the bleachers’ cheering crowds. He works really hard to throw us curve balls, fastballs, split-finger balls, change-up balls, slider balls, knuckleballs, forkballs, cut-fastballs, sidearm balls, four-seam fastballs, palm balls, spitballs, submarine balls, shuuto balls, eephus balls, gyroballs, fosh balls, circle changeup balls, vulcan changeup balls, screwballs, slurve balls, knuckle curve balls (and yes, these all really are actual pitches!). Why all these crazy throws? To throw us OUT!

Once in a while, a batter gets hurt. Once in a while, he gets angry at the pitcher and storms toward him with rage, intent on revenge. Once in a while, he hits it into the stands or over the fence onto Waveland Avenue—home run! And once in a while, he just strikes out. Sounds like the game of life to me.

What do we do when life throws us a curve ball or some other off-the-wall, oddball pitch? Do we duck and run? Do we take the hit and then attack the pitcher? Do we drop out of the game and leave our team in the lurch because it’s not going our way? Do we dodge into the dugout and hide away, ashamed we didn’t knock it into the bleachers or onto Waveland Avenue? What do we do?

We have choices. There are always choices. The pitcher has choices, and the batter has choices. If the first, second, or third choice doesn’t go our way–in the next inning or the next game—there’s always the next pitch, so go back to the batter’s box and swing!

Success doesn’t come from avoiding the difficult pitches. Success comes from facing those pitches and transforming them into positive value. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, challenging, and sometimes painful to stay in the game when you feel like the pitcher’s out to get you. But if you don’t make the effort to give it your best swing, the regret is even more uncomfortable, challenging, and painful.

Your attitude is always your choice. No matter what kind of crazy pitch is thrown at you, you can maintain a powerful, positive outlook for the next one coming your way.

Choose today to rise above whatever might be threatening to strike you out. Choose a perspective that empowers you, and use that perspective to knock the next pitch out of the park. Choose to be like the diehard, true-blue Cubs fan…never giving up hope that this is THE YEAR!

Swing and a miss…swing and a miss…swing and a…HOME RUN!




With my hope and faith that this year is THE YEAR for the Cubbies and for you,