Summary: How do you respond when the unexpected happens?
How to hit the curve
I love sports. My passion lies primarily in playing a game and not simply watching one—although I enjoy that also. I have always been a fairly decent athlete. I did well in both high school and college, although I must confess that I had to work a lot harder than my brother. He is two years younger and has as much athletic ability in his pinkies as I have in my entire body. Needless to say we were (and to some degree still are) competitive with one another.
My brother excelled in baseball and soccer and I in basketball. However, both of us played anything and everything we could. I must confess that the entirety of my baseball career took place in one year. I played for the cubs. I was a good fielder but lousy at the plate. As my coach worked with me, I gradually got better. However, there is one game I will never forget. I’m not sure how far into the season it was, but the circumstances are vivid to this day.
It was the top of the second inning and one of my neighbors, Robbie, was pitching for the twins. They were the best team in the league and let’s just say that we were not. Robbie was one of the guys who met most days in the field behind our houses to play hit the bat or homerun derby. I had faced him as a pitcher many times and was optimistic about my chances against him. Then something happened that I will never forget.
Our coach always told us to take the first pitch. I did and it was a strike. No problem, I thought. If the next one is over the plate I’ll hit it. The next pitch came right at me. I ducked out of the way and the umpire said, “STRIKE TWO!” I couldn’t believe it. How could that have been a strike? The answer was simple; Robbie had thrown a curveball. He never did that in the field behind our houses so I was caught totally by surprise. I had never seen a curve from that perspective before. I didn’t like it much.
The next pitch came at me and I stood there, and stood there, and stood there. This pitch didn’t seem to be curving so I hit the deck. Ball one.
Now I was totally confused. The second pitch came at me and curved over the plate. The third pitch came at me and didn’t curve. What in the world would Robbie do next? I soon found out.
Robbie’s next pitch was another curve ball and I was determined not to bail out again, even if it meant getting hit. The pitch came at me and I distinctly remember thinking, “Oh, no, it’s going to hit me!” I stood in as brave as I could. I kept my eye on the ball. I tensed up, preparing for the impact of ball and flesh. Then I watched it curve right over the plate. “STRIKE THREE!” The umpire shouted.
I stood there in disbelief and then solemnly walked back to the dugout. I knew I was finished as a baseball player. After all, they say that anyone can hit a fastball, but the great ones can handle the curve. Robbie had thrown the unexpected and I couldn’t handle it.
Let me ask you a question. Can you handle the curve? How do you respond when the unexpected happens?