Most of What I Know About Life, I Learned From Baseball

Ahead of the 4th of July, life lessons learned on the field of dreams.

For years now, this space has been devoted to politics, diplomacy, and war. Not today. The Fourth of July is at hand. Today this is going to be about life. And about the realization that much, if not most, of the little that I know about life, I learned from baseball.

In the Field

1. No one is born knowing how to do these things. No one.

2. It all boils down to this: Something comes your way, probably in a form which is faster and trickier and more potentially dangerous than you would prefer. Receive it. Keep it in front of you. Handle it without dropping it. Move it on to where it needs to go, and in the form it needs to take.

3. Use both hands.

4. At first, you will feel a strong need to rush. Don't.

5. When you're starting out, make sure you complete the first step before going on to the second, the second before going on to the third, and so forth.

6. Later on, when you've gotten good at this, fast at this, smooth and flawless and second-nature at this, make sure that you complete the first step before going on to the second, the second before going on to the third, and so forth.

7. Errors hurt.

8. Errors hurt for the same reason that learning hurts.

9. Practice hurts.

10. Practice more than they tell you to.

11. At first, you may find yourself wishing and hoping that the next play will go elsewhere, to someone else, so you that won't have to risk failure and shame.

12. If you love this game, if you study how professionals at it do the impossible, if you read and listen, and if you learn from yourself and your teammates and your coaches and your opponents and their coaches, one day you may well find yourself, before every play, saying to the ball, "Come to me," and to your opponent at the plate, "Bring it on. Let's see what you've got." That is what success feels like.

At the Plate

1. Many of the bad ones look exactly like the good ones.

2. Let the bad ones go by.

3. When a good one approaches, make contact.

4. As you progress, the bad ones will likely grow more sophisticated, more tempting, all but indistinguishable from the good ones.

5. Resist.

On the Mound

1. When looking for signs, keep an open mind,

2. Those who are facing you, can see things that you can't.

3. They also know things that you don't.

Your Opponents

1. Respect them. Appreciate them. You respect them by always playing as hard as you can. Play fair. Do not injure. Do not cheat. Play to win. Play to win even if you're way behind. Do not let up. Never let up.

2. Respect yourself. When you're in the right, stand up for yourself. When your teammates are in the right, stand with them.

3. Respect yourself. When you are in the wrong, stand down.

The Game

1. Whatever your mood, show up. Whatever your position, give it everything you have. Stay loose. Stay alert. Root your teammates on. There's heroism in them. And in you.

2. Use your head.

3. Respect the game. Love the game.

4. No one can play it like you.