Don’t give away any at bats

Last Wednesday afternoon Sheila and I rolled in to Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati to watch my beloved Pittsburgh Pirates take on the hometown Reds while we were in Ohio. It was a brutally hot mid-western afternoon, and we settled in a few rows behind the dugout only to watch the favorite baseball team lose yet again.

For Pittsburgh fans, this is the time of year when we tend to focus our attention towards football (though I’m listening to the game as we speak). Football preseason has begun, summer is sailing into its final month, and at least for my baseball team, the games matter less in terms of wins and losses, and more in terms of younger players gaining experience and looking to the future.

When I was a softball coach, my team occasionally ended up on the other side of some very lopsided games. But the thing about baseball and softball is that you can’t wait for the clock to run out. You can’t turn the ball over to the other team. You can’t do anything at all but send your hitters up to the plate, one at a time, until you’ve made three outs.

And those at bats are a hell of a lot harder than you might think.

I’ve played in those games, I’ve coached those games, and I’ve watched those games as a fan. And they are hard. I think those are some of the hardest at games to endure.

As a coach, I always implored my players not to give away those at bats though, no matter how futile they might seem. Because even when you’re losing – even when the game is so far out of reach a victory is impossible, there are always two things that matter – taking pride in your effort – and understanding that every moment holds the possibility of something special.

We are right now headed in to the dog days of summer. Maybe you’ve been off-track with your workouts – maybe you’ve fallen off of your nutrition plan. Maybe this summer isn’t going the way you had hoped or planned.

But in life, as in baseball, these two things remain true – that you can take pride in putting forth your 100 percent, whatever that looks like.

And understanding that each moment, no matter how fleeting, no matter how hopeless it might sometimes feel, still holds the possibility of something special