Baseball is a great metaphor for life. I could be biased because I love baseball (yeah, I know it’s slow and boring, but I like it.)
One area I think baseball really overlaps life quite nicely is innings and years. There are nine innings in baseball and let’s say if you are lucky you get to 90 in life (more likely 80, but I’m rounding up to make the analogy work better).
The first three innings of life are a lot like how the first three innings of a baseball game start out. You’re young, excited, energetic and see plenty of time left “in the game”. You do your best to get a nice head start, but it’s not the end of the world if you fall behind, at least not by a lot (so keep those grades up kids!). You go to college, you get a job, you meet a girl, you have fun. You take chances. You don’t have to quite hunker down and get serious.
Then you hit the middle three innings – let’s call them 30 to 60. This is the grind. You settle into the flow of the game/life. You build your team, you have kids, your mettle is tested. Your “starting” pitching might start feeling fatigue and if they are getting roughed up you might need to make a change. Or hopefully you’re coasting along and feeling strong. It all depends. Again a lot like life. I’m here right now and the middle innings ain’t sexy. They are tough for a multitude of reasons. To all the kids out there in such a rush to grow up and get out of the first third, let me let you in on a little, possibly sad, secret – it doesn’t get easier it just gets harder. You’re tired a lot. The responsibilities on you mount, and the team is looking at you to deliver. Don’t get me wrong, you want the ball in your hand, you want to hear the crowd cheering for you, you want to take the mound, but it’s hard and you have to dig down deep inside a lot of days and just grind it out. My advice – every now and then step off the mound and toss the rosin bag a few times. Those breaks help you move forward. You need them.
I’ll add one more thing about the “middle innings”. Again like a baseball game they are often forgettable after the game is over or even when it’s going on. You kind of haze over them. Don’t do that, because I can assure, if you follow baseball, a majority of the time the game is actually decided in the middle three innings. Same is true for life.
So what about the final three innings? Well, personally I can’t say. I can only speculate based on looking at other folks. Let’s say my parents. You see them and you can tell how grateful they are just to be here. Still in the game. Few starters ever pitch a complete game. So just getting to the 8th and 9th in life is a major win. You can tell, too, they’ve figured out what’s important. Things like time with family, their kids and grandchildren, their health. Ironically they’ve also learned that winning isn’t everything and that the key all along was just getting to play the game.