Last week I posted a blog entry on a unique quality to the game of baseball in comparison to other popular team sports. In that posting, I noted how baseball is the only sport in which the defense holds the ball, forcing the offense to force the issue if it is to score runs.
Another unique quality of America’s pastime is the way in which one teammate affects the other’s capacity to make an impact. Though teammates are important in every sport, they do not limit any one player’s ability to “go the distance” and score the fullest possible tally on any given possession. When on offense, an eligible football player can take the ball from any point on the field and score a touchdown. A hockey player can skate in from his own ice and net a goal. In basketball, anyone on the offensive side can dribble down and shoot as he sees fit.
Baseball is unique in that regard. When a player steps to the plate, the impact that he can make is completely dependent on who has preceded him. If he leads off the inning or bats with the bases empty, his ability to influence the score is greatly limited; at most he can score one run. If he is the only player that the opposing team is worried about, they can pitch around him. Imagine if the Knicks of the early ‘90s would have been able to walk Michael Jordan or Reggie Miller so that they would not take over a playoff game at the end. Or if the Jets would be able to pitch around Tom Brady and let another player beat them. It simply does not work that way in other sports.
The lesson that we learn is that we cannot do it alone, at least not on the diamond. No matter how capable we are, we still need to surround ourselves with quality people who will set the table and force others to pitch to us when the game is on the line. Any professional that works with others needs to appreciate the significance that their “teammates” play in the daily game of life. Batter up!