August 2020 Baseball Intelligence

August 3, 2020

Hope this finds you safe and in good spirits…how many books can you read, how many miles can you walk, and how much Netflix can you endure??  After a bit, hopefully many will understand that it will only go away if EVERYONE on the team does what they are supposed to do!!  Stay home, wear a mask, and keep calm!!  Stay well!!

This particular BIQ is my 300th..it is only the 110th since FirstSwing was created but it began as Out in Left Field back in the 1990s!  The subject today has much to do with our current “situation” but also is very personal to me.  I have been on so many teams since I was a tyke to include Kiwanis, Rotary, Mac’s Shop, Raunchy Rebels, Debonairs, high school, college, the US Army(and sports teams within as well as TDY teams), focus groups, and have coached 5 different sports and so many teams in almost 60+ years!!

This BIQ touches my heart because it is about being a good solid and loyal teammate.  If the US is the big team then we are all teammates and need to work together to solve this conundrum.  We have done so against horrific foreign aggressors, polio, AIDS, and other intrusive forces, but we are falling short in this particular crisis.  Too many are concerned with their own lives/proclivities and wants that they cannot grasp the severity of the virus nor do they seem to care about others.  Short term greed equals long term stupidity!!

This BIQ also is in celebration of my wife’s superlative efforts as the greatest teammate.  It is dedicated to her as we enjoy our 50th wedding anniversary this month.  I hope you will read it and help us get everyone to be a great teammate so we can get on with our lives in more normal manner.

Best to all and GAGPTH!WNM!!!!!

Baseball Intelligence:  August 2020(#110)

THE GREATEST TEAMMATE: “Simply the Best”

“Perfect practice makes perfect!?!”

Baseball, as life, is a team game.  It is a team game based on individual skill sets, that takes all players doing their job and supporting each other.  The greatness of the game is that is does not require an All-Star at every position, but a group of players that are teammates and have each other’s back!!  Baseball teaches all the “life lessons” that are needed to empower one to become a good solid and productive citizen and teammate.  The family is the ultimate team and needs the members to understand the concept of team, loyalty, responsibility, and unconditional commitment to family!  Good teams are very difficult to build and good teammates are even rarer!!!

Throughout the history of the game, many players have earned a very nice living being a team player and yet were average in their skill sets.  These players got it done and did what the team needed, when needed!  Albeit, many were small, slow, average hitters, etal, BUT, they were the consummate teammate in that they supported the team mission and sacrificed self-interest for the team.  Jim Gantner, Charlie Silvera, Dusty Rhodes, and Willie Bloomquist are all prototypical examples of the player without the big numbers or “5-tool” skills, that played hard every day, when needed, where needed, and without concern of individual glory…all great teammates and WINNERS!

The epitome of great teammates may be Ted Williams and a few of his teammates from his halcyon years in the 1940s.  David Halberstam wrote of their relationships in his award-winning book, The Teammates.

Teddy Ballgame, Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky and Dom DiMaggio are depicted as not just being teammates, but also close friends…the byline is “portrait of friendship”.  Ted was surly, loquacious, vulgar, and hard-headed and extremely adamant in his beliefs.  However, he was the poster boy of a great teammate:  if old teammates needed money he provided, if they were ill or had issues he visited them, and he was always there to console and comfort in his own way.  He was loyal to each and all until his death!  Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese were prime examples of great teammates that not only worked well together but changed the landscape of American sports and society!!

There have been some historical great teammates to include Gaston and Alphonse, salt and pepper, Gayle Sayers and Brian Piccolo, Jack Twyman and Maurice Stokes, Bill Russell and Bob Cousy to mention a few.  All these stayed together for a great length of time and gave each other the support needed so BOTH could be successful and achieve their goals/dreams!!  That is what GREAT teammates do!!!

As this year is the celebration of my 50th Wedding Anniversary, I have been blessed with having the GREATEST TEAMMATE in the history of marriage, let alone baseball.  Genie, my wife of those 50(consecutive) years is not only the greatest teammate, she possesses all the skill sets and has been committed to our “team success” and longevity. Finding a partner/teammate, was/is not easy, yet we have managed to work hard to keep the “glowing ember” alive and still maintain our own dignity and individuality.  Teammates give up to the team, and she has done so without harangues or vitriol.  She has “taken one for the team” to the extent that the marriage has lasted through rough and ugly times, as well as in endemic ones.  Moreover, when we had our two children, she learned to play “man-to-man” and at times even zone!!

Fifty years of wedded bliss is not an accident or “just luck”.  It is a demanding exercise in patience, understanding, and consistency.  The key components are loyalty, trust, adaptability, authenticity, ethics, and the ability to be responsible and accountable for one’s actions especially when tending the kids.  Being a teammate is the most difficult life experience in that you must not just give it up to the relationship but many times must put aside your  feelings and aspirations to do what is best for the team!!The latter means at any time despite personal preferences or biases!!  Teamwork is the combination of hard work and respect, and a true love of what you are doing.  One cannot listen to the “sounds of jealousy or resentment” from others, but must soldier on knowing that someone has your back and will do what ever it takes for the team to be successful and in this case, a rewarding marriage!

All great teams are based on WE NOT ME(WNM).  It is very difficult in this day and age to find a teammate not so infatuated with their own desires and goals in order to create the dyad that survives no matter the circumstance(s).  Look at all the “great teams” that have failed to achieve their goals and longterm success because so many of the “team” would not sublimate their own wants for the good of the greater number!

Marriage is even tougher because it is a day-to-day, year-to-year, lifetime-to-lifetime arrangement that must endure more heartbreak and  emotional stress than any sports, business, or other types of teams.  It is an ALL-IN and WNM union that is forever faced with Hobson’s Choice!!

Lastly, our team has learned in the short 50 years that life is predicated on empowering NOT enabling.  It takes a great deal of work and “blood, sweat, and tears” to maintain the consistency needed for both to enjoy the “ride” and find happiness in achieving together.  It is the ultimate work-in-progress, but it is also the most rewarding.  Unconditional love and respect are key elements that cannot be compromised nor ignored; each teammate must learn to adjust, re-set, and adapt…and without loss of self-image or self-respect!!

Genie is the paragon of a true teammate by every standard.  She may not be able to turn two, bunt, hit behind the runner, hit the cutoff, etal, BUT she has always had my back and figured out a way to make the team stronger and better!!!  It has not just been an honor but also a privilege to have been blessed with the ULTIMATE TEAMMATE.  How many more years will this team last?  Really cannot predict, but I will say, with conviction, that I am definitely “luckier than Lou!’’  GAGPTH and WNM!!!