I have stood first in-line of green National Guard recruits ready to face drill sergeants at Fort Benning for the first time, but nothing has scared me more then the thought of striking out to Cooperstown babe ruth's fifteen year old girl pitcher with the game in my hand's.
With 2 outs.
In the bottom of the sixth inning.
With all of my teammates watching.
That was simply terrifying.
But that is also the wonder of baseball. No team can prevail without teamwork; without nine, ten, maybe more players combining all of their efforts to function effectively against the opposing line-up, yet every team is guaranteed defeat if every player does not have the ability to individually act in the clutch, to play from their heart and to the best of their capabilities.
Sure, there are some teams that are defined by a single player... But they usually do not win any championships, and if they do, its' usually because the quiet heroes playing along side them did their job thanklessly as the sports media showers praise on that one guy for whatever reason.
Baseball is unique in that sense. Where other sports depend almost entirely on teamwork, or that one clutch player to lead their efforts; baseball requires the best from working as a team and from as an individual from every player. You don't win the World Series if no one stands out at some point in the season and provided the crucial third strike, or that game winning single in the bottom of the fourteenth inning, three games out of first place, against your division rival.
And as I look back, almost five years removed from that aforementioned match up against the 15 year old Cooperstown girl pitcher, I can understand the beautiful balance of baseball: if it was not for my buddy Morgan smashing a double before me, driving in the tying run, and then moving to third after a wild pitch, what I did would have never meant anything, in fact I might have never batted...
So with baseball once again returning for another long, sweaty season criss-crossing professional, amateur, collegiate, high school, youth and little leagues, I think back to what makes baseball so worth playing, watching and being apart of. The greatness of team work, yet the amazing impact of one man's performance on the entire tide of the game.
What say you?
Oh, by the way, I clubbed a solid single to center-left field, driving in Morgan - the winning run - on a two-one count, winning a then crucial game for my babe ruth team, and avoiding embarrassment of epic proportions.