Sunday, April 26, 2015

Safe At The Plate

"LIFE'S JOURNEY IS NOT TO ARRIVE TO THE GRAVE SAFELY IN A WELL PRESERVED BODY, BUT RATHER TO SKID IN SIDEWAYS, TOTALLY WORN OUT SHOUTING "HOLY CRAP.....WHAT A RIDE!"


Gosh, I love this quote. I was thinking about baseball,  or football if you would rather, but anyway, the guys I like to see the most play are the ones who get their uniforms a little dirty. At the end of the game their pants are grass stained and mud caked, there is sweat pouring down their foreheads, and they are tired, but oh so happy. They played the game hard, and they played it right, and by golly, they had fun doing it.

A player by name of Mr. Pete Rose comes to mind when I read this quote. I know, I know, Mr. Rose will probably better be known in history as the man who was banned for life from baseball for betting on the sport that he loved so much, but I prefer to remember the guy who had minimum skill, whose body looked more like a fire hydrant than a finely tuned athlete, and whose manners would make Emily Post turn over in her proper grave.

So why do I admire him so much? I admire him because he played the game with passion, and of course, hustle. I admire him because he took those questionable natural skills and not so athletic physique and became the all time hit leader, and one who would be known as" Charlie Hustle".
I am fortunate enough to have a personal friend who played on those great Cincinnati teams of the 1970's and he told me that no one worked harder in practice than Pete did.

Here is an email that I will share from my friend about Rose,


Good morning my friend....When I sat and talked to Rose, his knowledge of the game came from not just studying, but his willingness to learn.....many players will study film, study other players, pitchers, etc, but they dont know how to take what they have just witnessed and "learn" from it...Meaning, kind of like someone giving you a math project, you figure it out but really dont understand why the conclusion you came to and its reasoning...

Rose, on the other hand, would study, apply, and learn from it...He didn't have great talent...what he had was talent that he made great....what little talent he had when he began playing ball, it became great talent because every single play, every single at bat, every single inning he played, he made himself just a little bit better than the previous play...again, his willingness to learn and apply....

This is where most players dont understand or cant get it....you take a hitting instructor...he knows you, he sees you, he sees your flaws and tells you exactly what you need to do to correct these issues....but, the player himself cannot do it because he doesn't understand why....he cant, again, apply what he is being taught...

Rose was the best, in my mind...truly a guy who has this hunger, this desire, this drive to do anything, anywhere, anytime to win....he hated losing probably almost as much as me...when it was game time, he expected everyone around him to be prepared and go out into that field not hoping to win, but knowing you will win...he became great because he not only believed, but he WANTED to be great...and his desire to become better with each play and each inning played, showed how much he loved this game and in turn, he became one of the greatest hitters...

He had talent...but I have seen others with more talent...way more...the problem is, these players took it for granted and didn't become or had no desire to become even better...kind of like that beautiful girl that everyone wants....everyone tells her  how pretty and what a great body she has...well, why should she become better if everyone likes her already?....with Rose, he was great...but he wanted more than just great...he wanted to be the best....

Sadly, he did what he did in the end....as much as I disliked what he did, nothing can take away what he accomplished.
 
I can so see Pete  sliding into home and shouting " Holy Crap, What a ride."


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