College baseball is an imperfect game; that is its beauty and the key to its enjoyment. Place it in a major league setting and it becomes an awkward parody. In the major leagues, a ground ball to the shortstop is an out, but in college ball, even a pop-up carries an element of doubt. The appeal of college baseball is that the players have talent but not perfection. They are capable of outstanding accomplishment and unbelievable mistakes; they are, in short, just like ourselves. It is a game all of us can understand.
PAUL BURKA, Texas Monthly, Apr. 1974
Baylor Baseball has officially begun. Practice started a week ago, and in less than two weeks our Bears will be hosting the Cal Poly Mustangs for a weekend series. As I thought about how best to prepare for this season, I had to decide how best to handle the coverage. First, I do not plan to discuss the 2014 season at all any more. It is over. Second, because we play so many games and I try to have a life, I do not expect to write up a piece about each and every game. I will travel to as many games as possible, and I will follow the team as closely as possible otherwise. But rather than keeping up with the minutia of the season and focusing real heavily on stats, I intend to simply offer previews of upcoming opponents, share my perspectives on how the season is going, and try to hopefully provide a bit of insight into some nuances that make baseball the best game in the world.
The quote at the beginning of this piece really spoke to me when I saw it, mostly because it is so spot on. Baseball in general can teach us a lot about life. Ted Williams once famously pointed out that baseball the only endeavor in life where a person who is successful only 3 out of 10 times is considered a good performer. Let me share with you one lesson that I learned from baseball that has stuck with me and has proven true time and time again. "You cannot control results; you can only control your approach"
Baseball, more so than any other sport, teaches the above lesson. In basketball and football, you have the ability to dictate results in a way that you cannot in baseball (sometimes just by having bigger, faster, stronger athletes). Take offensive production for example. Baseball is the only sport we play (because nobody here plays cricket; 'Mericah!) where the team on offense doesn't control the ball. As a hitter, you can do everything right and fail. Wait for the right pitch, square up the round ball with the round bat, hit a line drive up the middle, etc... All to only have it snagged by a pitcher who more than anything was just trying to keep from dying. There are a lot of examples of this, but the point is easy to see. Defensively, this is less true than on offense, but sometimes even when you do everything right, you still just cannot make the play. Think about Bill Buckner. He worked hard to get in front of a late inning ground ball. He kept his glove down, and a ball went safely by it changing the course of baseball history and his life personally. He did everything right... or he at the very least tried to. ESPN's E:60 on it was pretty great.
To end these musings and preview the season, let me just say baseball truly is a great game. It is a great metaphor for life. College baseball is especially so. This season could go any number of ways; predictions are pointless. The Big XII may be as strong as it has ever been, and the Bears play a very solid out of conference. To be perfectly honest, I would not be surprised to see 2015 prove to be another tough year for the Bears. However, I do expect improvement. Coach Smith made the decision to redshirt players who could have contributed last year. As the position players age, we should se improvement at the plate and in the field. And, we can be confident if we can stay healthy we will pitch. Irrespective of anything else, we will see a ton of great baseball. It starts with Cal Poly on Feb. 13 who lost out to Pepperdine in their Regional Final and had 6 players drafted in last year's MLB Amateur draft.
Let's enjoy this season. It should be a lot of fun.
Baseball is the most perfect of games, solid, true, pure and precious as diamonds. If only life were so simple.
W. P. KINSELLA, Shoeless Joe