The Perfect Game

I love baseball. I love the symbolism, the metaphor, and the geometry of it.

Phil Hughes is a Yankee pitcher.

He started his big league career with a couple stints as starting pitcher in 2007 but was injured in just his second game. He rehabbed but wound up in the minor leagues. Phil DID NOT LIKE the minor leagues! He made no bones about it.

Last year, he returned to the major league but didn’t fit into the Yankees’ rotation of starting pitchers. He wound up in the bullpen, a place starting pitchers don’t like. Phil, however, said he’d do anything not to go back to the minor leagues (hint: he had motivation).

This year, he competed for the 5th and last spot in the Yankees’ starting rotation of pitchers and won it. Yankee starting pitchers are VERY IMPORTANT PEOPLE!

Good for Phil, right?

Last night was his second start. He was hurling heat! His curve ball was curvy (admittedly a girly descriptive for a pitch), his cutter was slicing across the plate at unhittable angles.

BBHeater

He issued only 1 walk in 5 innings. Phil was working on a no-hitter, a rare feat in baseball! (Even rarer, a perfect game is no walks and no hits.)

It was mesmerizing. After the 6th inning, still a no hitter!

After 7, Phil still in charge!

Then, in the 8th inning, Eric Chavez hit a ball sharply back to Hughes on the pitcher’s mound. It bounced off his body at an angle he couldn’t follow with his eyes – oops – no more NO HITTER!

About now, you’re probably saying “What’s a weight loss coaching talking about a baseball no hitter for?”

Well, if a no hitter is a great big clean eating day, how many no hitters have you had in your life?

You know what I’m talking about. You’re buzzing along, throwing heat, your curve ball is dropping over the plate at an ungodly angle… you’re cooking with gas, hitting on all the cylinders, running great energy.

And then, all of a sudden you get hit with a line drive. A cookie tackles you and handcuffs you. Coffee ice cream derails you at 94 m.p.h. A 1200-calorie meal is between you and home plate.

The point is this: what Phil Hughes does next is what’s important. It will tell us, his fans, everything about his character, his resolve, his dedication, his ability to master his mental approach to the game.

Will he falter? Will he assume that moment when the ball bounced off his chest onto the turf says something about him or his life? Or does he know it’s his response to this moment that matters?

Will he let the 1 hit, the imperfect moment, grow inside his head? Maybe to the point of sabotage?

Will he finish the season a winning pitcher? Or will he wind up back in the minors? Anything is possible. But much of what happens next is up to Phil Hughes and his response.

What do you do when you’re faced with a bobbled ball that’s trickling in the infield?

It reminds me of a client who once agonized over food. (You know my attitude regarding food – it’s energy, fuel, simple. No agonizing!)

“I just wish I could have good days,” she complained. “Perfect days. I need a million perfect days. I wish I could put together a whole string of perfect days like you, Pat. I tell myself ‘I bet Pat always has perfect food days.’”

Well, I was stunned. I actually heard myself say “Perfect days?”

Of course, I had to tell her the truth.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a perfect day. It’s not something I look for…,” I said. “I’ve lost a lot of weight, and I’ve kept that weight off, but it was never about perfect.”

Of course, this is true for Phil too. If he attempts to recreate yesterday, he’s doomed. If he expects his next outing, or every game, to be like yesterday’s glorious game, he’ll be bussing it in the Carolina league in no time. And we know Phil really DOESN’T LIKE BUSES!

After all, in the millions of baseball games played in the major leagues, there have been less than 300 no hitters pitched. If baseball players can be successful without perfect, you and I can do it too.

Instead, I suggest this easy substitution when you hear the word “perfect” in your head.

Excellence.

Michael J. Fox once said, “I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.”

Do an excellent job, the best you are capable of in this moment in time, and move on. Don’t think twice about it. After all, it really is a mind game.

This blog was featured on “Prevention Not Prescriptions!” Find out more and share information for “Prevention Not Prescriptions” at The Kathleen Show here.

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