The First Pitch
by Leonard C Suskin
"Never swing at the first pitch."
That was the first lesson your father drilled into us in little league. It's the lesson his father taught him, that his brothers taught your cousins. And your learned it.
After a time, you came to never swing at the first pitch.
When you were very young, it was take a pitch or face the belt. After a while it wasn't even about the belt anymore. It was about how if you got a fat fastball down the middle of the plate and smoked it into the gap for a double you'd come back to the bench to see a stern frown. The next day, the crack of the bat would still be echoing in your hears, your father would cooly say, "We need to work on plate discipline", and that was that. The joy
It was as if it didn't count, not to them. Not if you didn't follow "process".
There were other lessons, of course.
"Count your change twice."
"Always push for a better offer. Even if it means losing the deal."
"A steady job with a steady paycheck is better than chasing a dream."
It took you years to realize that all of the lessons were the same lesson.
That all that mattered is not to take the first pitch.
Years later you'd read about the new focus on statistics in baseball, as opposed to instinct. About the value of on-base percentage. On seeing more pitches. You'd realize your father was right.
Now that you have kids and a house and suburbia with a white picket fence it's time that you get to be a little league coach.
The first lesson you teach will be on plate discipline.