In the 1920’s, there were sixteen teams split between two leagues. Every team played its rival teams eleven times at home and eleven times away (a total of 22 games per rival) for a 154-game season. Then, there came expansions, divisions within each league, interleague play, and so on. Soon, a specter of 198 games (not counting the World Series) loomed as a possibility; extending play well into the late fall/early winter. So, Major League Baseball stuck with 162 games for a normal season. Plus the World Series and League playoffs. By any measure, a long season. A look at some of the numbers is astounding.
A typical season includes: about 1,458 innings, 4,374 outs, 24,300 pitches, 2,916 hits, 324 home runs, 2,268 strikeouts, 1,134 walks, and an astonishing 16,200 baseballs used – per team! Imagine nearly half a million baseballs in use every summer, across MLB. A lot of those will be souvenirs, many will be returned to the dugout to be used for batting practice, on-field drills and so forth. Perhaps the biggest number of all is the 162 games played in the regular season. That’s about 6 games per week for almost six months. Even a team’s so-called “day off” is often an opportunity for the team to interact with their fans by way of a celebrity golf tournament raising money for a local children’s hospital (as an example).
Maintaining a culture of Little League affirmation is difficult and can possibly be the “secret sauce” to an average team in terms of ability becoming a major force during the final days of the season – potentially leading to a playoff berth. During times of struggle, like severe illness, natural disaster, or major life changes, even the weakest of partners can muster the courage and strength necessary to prevail. At least for a time. Relationships in peril will try to live for one mountaintop experience after another, or create chaos in order to struggle in the muck of the valley, because “flat” seems too normal. Normal is too boring.
Baseball teaches us that it’s the day-in, day-out routine that forms relationships and determines their success. If the fundamentals are in place, if the marinating words of affirmation are the first language of all involved; if there is a sense of hope, anticipation, and adventure about the future, then people will produce a steadfastness of purpose. Tenacity will take root, which will create a determined, never-say-die attitude in the team, family, or couple. An indefatigable spirit will be the hallmark of their interactions with the world, despite delay or failure in achieving success. Again, the task is not to “get through” the flat times until we get to another mountaintop high, nor about finding ways to avoid the muck of the valley. It’s not about enduring the flat times like a road trip across the prairie. All of it is part of the journey. Remember: baseball is about progress, not perfection. The long-haul season of baseball is the best life example we have of persevering persistently.
I’ll have more to say in future blogs about “arrival psychology”- typical of individuals struggling with shame issues. This is the thinking that I will be okay “if” or “when.” If I get married next summer, then I’ll be okay. When I get a job, then all my troubles will disappear. Stay tuned – and check out my new YouTube channel coming soon!