Baseball may be the biggest sport where if you’re not in the game mentally, you might as well sit on the bench. Since over the years, stats have developed and players can be judged on paper, many ignore it while others want to check in and see if they’re producing good numbers beyond just the average and home runs.
Joey Votto is a player that stands out who cares about his OBP and over the years, it’s certainly gone up. In 131 games in 2009 (his rookie season), he had a.414 OBP. By 2012, it went all the way up to.474 in 111 games. Recently, Votto’s teammate, Brandon Phillips spoke out to USA Today, saying about the stat:
“I don’t do that MLB Network on-base percentage (stuff),” Phillips told USA TODAY Sports. “I think that’s messing up baseball. I think people now are just worried about getting paid and worrying about on-base percentage instead of just winning the game.”
Not getting into it too much, you can see Phillips simply doesn’t care about more stats then what we usually see on most TV games. While entitled to his opinion, most would agree with a teammate who cares about this number, he didn’t make Joey Votto look good as his viewpoint on OBP is on the other side.
Now, whether or not you care about OBP is an important number, it’s one of the easiest things to compare to Zen Buddhism. In our every day lives, we have a rush to get things done, get time to relax, and then feel like we’ll have another long day before work is finally done. I know myself every morning when I have to get ready and check out the schedule, I have to take a breather and not get into my head the common saying, “This is going to be a long day.”
At pressure at-bats for players, especially when you’re down one, in the 9th inning, I couldn’t imagine having the patience as the pitcher or the hitter thinking, a strike-out or home run is needed in order to end the game. Although, I’m not always the biggest fan to goofy quotes when it comes to a religion or philosophy, one of my favorites from Buddha is this:
“You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself.”
While it may be goofy to think this quote has anything to do with baseball. The mindset during every at bat can go ahead of schedule and constantly think about swinging the bat in anyway to get on base. It certainly may look good for Brandon Phillips when he line drives the ball to get a single, but when you get a walk, it’s the same thing. So, while I think Joey Votto would love to hit a home run at every at bat like any player in the game, I think he’s more realistic to the fact that in order to score runs, you have to get on base, even if you’re not the hero that gets the RBI.
The game is certainly more complicated to think Votto’s best OBP year, was his best year. But it’s all a balancing act as one can easily point out Votto’s OBP was great, but his 14 HRs and 59 RBIs in 2012 doesn’t get the job done in the clean-up position. So, it’s all a balancing act and cannot be perfect. So, understanding the fact that a day of anger will soon be followed by a day of happiness is difficult, we’d all like it balanced, but it won’t be perfect.
Having that understanding both in the game of baseball and life, is something we all strive for. So, in the year of 2015, let’s see what the champion’s moods are and the stats and see if it somehow balances out. The calm Madison Bumgarner pulled out a historic game to end the 2014 season. And I’d bet his patience in the 9th inning after Alex Gordon got to 3rd base was the reason they won it all.