bunt sign

March 30, 2000

Here's another way life is like baseball.

In baseball, they play every day for six months to decide which teams are the best. Then they play for another month to determine the best of the best. Every day. Some days you win, some you lose, but there's always a game tomorrow. If you lose today, you might win tomorrow, but if you win today, that doesn't mean you won't lose tomorrow. It just means you should forget about today and start over tomorrow. Even the worst teams win about a third of the time. Even the best teams lose about a third of the time.

Yesterday I felt low. I felt as low as the 1962 Mets. (They're an exception, by the way. They were so bad they won less than one fourth of their games. But it was their first year, and in those days the old teams didn't welcome the new teams by giving them a bunch of good players, the way they do these days. They had nobody that any of the other teams wanted, at all. And yet they still won forty games.)

Where was I?

Yesterday I had a bad day. I was feeling so miserable that I spread it around, like a disease. There was no particular reason for it, at least none that I can think of, none that would justify the extraordinary depth to which I dragged myself. Nothing really happened to give me the Pacific Ocean misty blues. Nobody died, at least nobody that I know. (I'm sure somebody died, and they were important to people who had every right to be sad. But apparently the right to be sad doesn't require the loss of a loved one, or even a liked one.)

Or maybe something did happen. Maybe there was a just and valid reason that I felt lower than snake shit in a wheel rut (in the words of a dear, dear friend who once betrayed me in a way that made me feel even lower yet, for a long, long time). But it doesn't matter what happened. It doesn't matter whether anything happened or not. Because that was yesterday, and yesterday's gone. (Chad and Jeremy, 1964.)

And today I felt good, for no better reason than I felt bad yesterday. For no reason, I was the 1993 Giants. (Rescued from being moved out of San Francisco at the end of 1992, the Giants came back the next year to play with an infectious joy that brought them a record number of wins.) Nothing special happened today that made me feel this way, although it didn't hurt that the sun came out and the air felt like summer.

The best thing about today was that it wasn't yesterday. New day, new chance to make something out of it. If you let the weight of a bad day (or a loss) drag you down, you can't take advantage of the chance that tomorrow (or tomorrow's game) gives you to make life better. I might have spent yesterday stumbling in the dark, lost in the woods, but that doesn't mean I'm not ready for a picnic and a game of horseshoes today.

Anyone who thinks they can look ahead in the spring and predict who's going to be in the World Series come October is probably going to have a change of heart before the end of April. And then they'll change their mind a half dozen more times between May and September.

Because the season is long. It's long to make it hard on teams that don't have the will to keep trying in the face of adversity. It's long to give the slow starters a chance to catch up. It's long because there are a lot of teams, and they can't all win the World Series, but along the way they can all give their fans some thrills to remember and talk about during the long winter that inevitably happens between baseball seasons.

Sometimes I feel as if I'm on an endless losing streak. Nothing I do turns out the way I hope. I try to find ways to make my life better, but I can't seem to do anything right. I get discouraged. I get in a black mood, and it seems that I'll never be able to claw my way out of the swamp.

Then the sun comes up one morning, and I know before I've even taken a swing that I have my batting stroke back. The slump is history, forgotten before I can remember it, and I'm ready to embrace the new chance I've been given.

What I have to remind myself is that the best teams never get too high or too low. This is hard for me. When I win, I want to celebrate, and believe that I can't lose. When I lose, I think I'll never win again. It's a struggle to stay balanced. I have to find a way to remember that one game doesn't make a season, win or lose. It's the journey that counts. It's getting up every day and looking for the fast ball, but ready to adjust to the curve.

In the same spirit of hope and renewal, I want to thank everyone who sent good thoughts to Saundra. They seem to have had the desired effect.

Congratulations to Derek and Amy and Abby. And, of course, Olivia.

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