We all have a favorite sport and within that sport, a favorite team. Good, bad or ugly, we stick it out with hopes of a continued success, profitable trades, or sometimes just a better season next year. I’m a baseball fan. Specifically, I’m a fan of the Seattle Mariners. I know, I know… a very challenging position to take on a constantly evolving team that continues a roller coaster of optimism and disappointment.
But, I love them. They’re my team and I’ve been a fan for close to 20 years. A real fan – always optimistic… at least at the start – I ride the tide of ups and downs. I cringe when I see them falter and I cheer them on when they are showing improvement. I feel the frustration of the losses and can be deterred by the slumps. I feel pumped and rejuvenated by winning streaks, unexpected home runs and plays worthy of the highlight-reel. I love them. Unconditionally. Do I question their choices? Often, yes, I do. But I also try to sit back on some perspective and trust that no matter what it looks like from the bleacher seats, I cannot possibly know the inner working and dynamics of being in a position to run their ball team. So I watch, and wait and hope that something good happens when all is said and done.
Baseball is a little like raising children. Whereas baseball players train on hitting, running and defense, we train our children similar skills, but in a broader sense. We give them the tools they need, constantly practicing for the game of life. And when they step up to the plate facing a giant (insert any of the following: bully, peer pressure, moral decision, gift buying choice, etc.) we hope their training did them some good. We hope they make the All-Star Team. We pine for an MVP and Hall of Famer. Sure, they might start out slow, swinging and missing, but stepping up to the plate is half the battle. Learning the pitches being thrown at them is all part of the essentials: swing at the fastballs and wait out the grounders and ALWAYS jump out of the way when you see one screaming towards your head. And there’s more to life, more to baseball, than just hitting a home run. Sometimes the game must be played with simple base hits and defensively played error-free to really make a difference. Players, just like children, all develop at their own rate but they do get better. They have to for risk of a career-ending “game over.”
So when kids or players continually strike out looking or struggle to make it to first base on a solid grounder to the hole, they must go back to the trenches and work on their skill set. Training is adjusted and we look forward to the next run-in. Just as with anything, we have to continually work at it. We have to find the kinks and smooth them out. And when needed, we can’t be afraid of sending them back down to AAA for a reality check. That’s tough love people.
As within parenting, it’s hard looking at other teams. Though we try not to, it’s easy to be judgmental or envious over the other teams, and other families, success. We want to be winning too. The Yankees with their high dollar payroll is the equivalent to the kids coasting through adolescence on their parent’s dime. The Washington Nationals coming out of nowhere with a killer standing so far this season – makes us scratch our heads and wonder what they are doing different than us, because apparently, it seems to be working. And working well. Child-raising can be equally competitive if you let it be, but it’s up to us to focus on our overall successes rather than the narrow focus to simply be the best.
In the same way I have no choice but to trust in team management, I have to also trust each parent, each family, to also make the moves and choices that are best for them because no team is trying to lose. No team wants to be on the bottom. The smart teams, just like the smart parents, adopt positive practices from those who seem to be making it work.
The Mariners are young and growing and need some time to find their footing, just like our children do. When they mess up, there are consequences and time on the bench. That’s life. Teams and parents alike just need to keep chipping at it. Regardless of payroll or veteran talent, we need to focus on each at-bat, each defensive play. Though I’ll take a home run every now and again, small ball is where it’s at. We’ll get the wins, in time… both for our kids and our Mariners.