Do you know what keeps our planet spinning on its axis?
Do you know why the the tide rolls in each night?
Do you know how the birds know when it’s time to migrate?
According to my father-in-law, it’s the same answer for all three: The Infield fly rule.
When I first heard him say this, I thought he was crazy. (Which he mostly is, but sometimes he surprises even me.)
However, the more I am around baseball, and the longer I live, the more I realize how true it is and how perfectly the game of baseball mirrors life.
It’s the only sport where the defense is in control of the ball, and without the infield fly rule, the game wouldn’t be perfect.
And if baseball isn’t perfect, then the world would stop spinning, the seas would still, and the birds would no longer know what to do every winter.
But it is perfect, and I love it more and more every year.
I spend the months of May and June watching a lot of baseball. And those innings in the bleachers provide plenty of time for reflection.
Here’s what I know:
1. Baseball is hard.
There are rules, but there are exceptions to the rules, depending on the play on the ball. Most of the game is played as wait-and-see, then decide and react. And obtaining a high baseball IQ is crucial to the success of the game.
Just like life. Life has general rules, but there are so many exceptions and decisions that make it impossible to make any hard and fast rules. And to be successful, you have to have a high life-living IQ.
2. Sometimes you get hit playing baseball.
Whether it’s by the pitcher or by a line drive, or by a foul ball in the stands, players (and sometimes fans) have to take their licks. But that doesn’t mean you quit. It may take you out of the game for a moment or advance you to first base, but you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and play on.
Life will come at you fast and hard, and sometimes it hurts when it hits. But in order to succeed, you can’t let the hits prevent you from playing the game.
3. You have to be ready for anything in baseball.
Most nay-sayers will accuse baseball of being too slow.
It doesn’t have the excitement of a basketball game, the energy of a soccer game, and the strategy of a football game.
But it’s not the excitement, energy, or strategy of the game that makes it great. It’s the absolute demand for perfection that does.
And that perfection requires every player to be ready. And not just ready, but ready with a plan A, B, and sometimes C.
It may only last 25 seconds from the crack of the bat to the end of the play, but it’s those 25 seconds that determine an error, an out, and sometimes the outcome of a game.
And life is the same way. We aren’t always making decisions that affect our destiny, but when faced with crucial decisions, we better be ready, and ready for the consequences of our decisions.
4. When it’s your turn at bat, it’s best to go down swinging.
Every player will strike out. Every. Single. One. But it’s better to strike out swinging, than by watching the ball.
And in life, we can sit back and watch it speed by, not take any risks, and we may find ourselves advanced a base a few times, but more often we’ll be heading back to the dugout on a strikeout, sad and disappointed because we never even tried.
And as long as the infiled fly rule exists, we can rest easy knowing that all is well with the world and cheaters are thwarted for the moment.