Baseball may be the biggest sport where, if you’re not in the game mentally, you might as well sit on the sidelines. Since over the years stats have developed and players can be judged on paper, many ignore it while others want to check and see if they are producing good numbers beyond average and home runs.
Joey Votto is a player who stands out and cares about his OBP and over the years it has certainly increased. In 131 games in 2009 (his rookie season), he had an OBP of .414. By 2012, he was up to .474 in 111 games. Recently, Votto’s teammate Brandon Phillips spoke with USA Today and said of the stat:
“I don’t do that percentage based on MLB Network (stuff),” Phillips told USA TODAY Sports. “I think that’s screwing up baseball. I think people now are just worried about getting paid and worrying about on-base percentage instead of just winning the game.”
Without digging too deep, you can see that Phillips just doesn’t care about any more stats than we usually see on most TV games. While he’s entitled to his opinion, most would agree with a teammate who cares about this number, it didn’t make Joey Votto look good as his point of view on OBP is on the other side. .
Now, whether or not you care about OBP is an important number, it’s one of the easiest things to compare to Zen Buddhism. In our daily lives, we are in a hurry to get things done, we have time to relax, and then we feel like we will have another long day before we finally get the job done. I know every morning when I have to get ready and check the schedule, I have to take a breath and not get the common saying: “This is going to be a long day.”
In pressure at-bats for players, especially when you’re down one, in the ninth inning, I couldn’t imagine having the patience as the pitcher or the batter thinking, you need a strikeout or a home run to finish. the game. While I’m not always the biggest fan of goofy quotes when it comes to religion or philosophy, one of my favorites from the Buddha is this:
“You cannot walk the path until you have become the path itself.”
While it might be silly to think that this quote has anything to do with baseball. The mindset during each at-bat can be ahead of schedule and constantly think about batting anyway to get on base. It certainly can look good on Brandon Phillips when he throws the ball for a single, but when you walk, it’s the same. So while I think Joey Votto would love to hit a home run every at-bat like any player in the game, I think he’s more realistic to the fact that in order to score runs, you have to get on base, even if you’re not the hero that get the RBI.
The game is certainly more complicated if we think that Votto’s best OBP year was his best year. But it’s all a balancing act, as one can easily point out that Votto’s OBP was excellent, but his 14 HR and 59 RBI in 2012 just don’t get the job done at the cleanup position. So everything is a balancing act and it can’t be perfect. So understanding the fact that a day of anger will soon be followed by a day of happiness is difficult, we would all like it to be balanced, but it will not be perfect.
Having that understanding both in the game of baseball and in life is something we all strive for. So, in the year 2015, let’s see what the champion moods and stats are and see if it somehow balances out. The quiet Madison Bumgarner pulled out a historic game to end the 2014 season. And she’d bet her patience in the ninth inning after Alex Gordon reached third base was the reason they won it all.