One of my neighbors loves baseball, not so much watching it as playing. Over the course of his life, he played in little league, high school and college. Some time ago, his wife bought him a pitching machine and every so often, he invites a group of friends out to a local field to take batting practice.
At 73, he’s the oldest in the group with most of us in our 50s with the exception of my 15-year-old son who has joined us this summer. For those of you not that familiar with baseball, one of the joys of practice is seeing how far you hit the ball and how consistently you can make good contact. You can sense the joy among the group and we act like a bunch of little kids cheering each other on for both hitting and fielding.
Earlier this summer, as we were batting on one field, a team of 10- to 12-year-olds was practicing on an adjacent field. The coaches ran a tight ship with a very efficient schedule to eke out the most practice for those boys. These days, the thinking is that the most efficient way to have batting practice is to have it in the “batting cage,” which is a 60-foot long by 8-foot tall and 8-foot-wide structure covered in netting. It allows the pitcher to stand closer behind a screen and quickly move the boys through batting practice and also allows for the easy and efficient way to collect the balls versus having them all over the field.
As I stood there on my field, I couldn’t help but notice the juxtaposition of a bunch of old guys acting like kids and enjoying themselves immensely versus the team of boys acting more like corporate employees efficiently getting through their business. I could only imagine that they were looking over at us wishing they could be hitting on the field and enjoying practice like we were.
We should always be thinking about what we are trying to accomplish for any endeavor we undertake. If it is 10- to 12-year-olds playing baseball, I have to believe that the primary goal should be fostering a passion for the sport. I can’t believe that removing the most exciting and enjoyable part of baseball practice – batting practice on the field – is fostering that passion.
I also pondered whether we always think through the overall impacts of striving for maximum efficiency. While chasing down baseballs all over the field is time consuming, I believe it is well worth the joy of making contact with the pitch and seeing it soar out into the field.
Take care and stay safe.
Only Murders in the Building (Season 2) – (Hulu)
Three strangers share an obsession with true crime and suddenly find themselves wrapped up in one. When a grisly death occurs inside their exclusive Upper West Side apartment building, the trio suspects murder and employs their precise knowledge of true crime to investigate the truth. Perhaps even more explosive are the lies they tell one another. Soon, the endangered trio comes to realize a killer might be living among them as they race to decipher the mounting clues before it's too late.