Monday, August 30, 2010

A Loser's Game

Baseball players deal with strife in odd – and terrifying – ways. One potential Hall of Famer told me recently that when he’s in a slump, he dreams of himself swinging a bat underwater and flailing about until he drowns. Though [Paul] Konerko’s mental anguish never reached that extreme, his nadir two years ago forced him to confront the reality so many never can: He’s going to fail 70 percent of the time, and he’d better figure out a constructive way to do it.

“There’s so much failure in this game,” Konerko said. “Getting too high isn’t a problem for most guys. Getting too low can be. It was for me. It’s been an ongoing battle. For a good couple years, I’ve been more rational how I view the negatives, the failures, and that’s only helped me get better. You kind of get tired of beating yourself up.

But it's natural to do so.

The "Fail Even When You Succeed" aspect of baseball is what gives it poetry. It's also what draws wretches -- players and spectators. It's why, as Deion Sanders shrewdly noted, there are so many alcoholics who are lifers in the sport.