Monthly Archives: November 2013

Models of Excellence

Models of Excellence!

“Mortals must change their ideals in order to improve their Models!”

“Conceptions of mortal erring thought must give way to the ideal of all that is perfect and eternal.” Current Big-League batting concepts must be at least partially erroneous if they can only provide a maximum efficiency rating of less than 40%. There must be some visionary with insight to detect the hidden source of pronounced batting proficiency as well as the foresight to determine a naturally productive benefit to those aspirants to progress who might adapt to a suitable facilitation of such an astute and pragmatic revelation.paciorek book

Certainly there must be something beyond the mortal hopelessness of impractical “trial and error” that can secure a confident approach to supplanting the traditional sense of human imperfection that deters the average ballplayer from ascribing to anything other than a mediocre standard of “Batting Excellence.”

Ted Williams was the last player to surpass the semi-permeable barrier of .400. To his uncommon credit, he applied a rarefied mental and physical confluence of energy that enacted a more scientific approach to the mechanism of hitting a baseball. However, with the advent of technological advancement, the modern baseball enthusiast has at his disposal an array of devices that should certainly enhance the skills of the contemporary batter (as well as other positioned ballplayers).

But no one has yet surpassed Ted Williams’ last effort of conformity to the highest current standard for batting success. Even with what can be scientifically construed as an imperfect application of principle, Ted Williams succeeded beyond the apprehension of his contemporaries, as well as those who would currently seek to supersede his efforts.Ted Williams (feet in stance)Ted Williams - swing

Unfortunately, the baseball world has regressed instead of progressed in its attempt to exact a semblance of the Ted Williams mystique for batting a baseball. Only one player seems to “hold a candle” to a higher proficiency level of excellent hitting. He is/was Barry Bonds! The remarkable fact that no one knows how he did what he did gives testimony to the chaotic state of affairs that the industry of baseball seems to be experiencing today. (Since he is now gone from the Baseball arena, much speculation has denounced his prowess as that due to his “chemically”- enhanced physicality.)

Barry Bonds 10

However, I submit that Barry Bonds as well as Ted Williams are the batters whom all prospective “high achievers” should emulate in order to attain a facsimile of credible “Excellence.” Although Mr. Williams was nearly perfect in his understanding and application of the principles governing the absolute definition of batting prominence, he was not altogether unflawed in his actual approach to an impeccable demonstration.

The closest exponent of the perfect batting technique was Barry Bonds, who, in obvious ways, superseded the brilliance that Ted Williams embodied. The only thing difficult to decipher is whether or not he was conscious of his pre-eminent status as a pure extrapolation of principle, or was he subject to faltering, due to lack of understanding?

thBarry Bonds 3Barry Bonds 2Barry Bonds 4

Barry Bonds was capable of hitting 100 home runs and batting .400 or more, because he was closer to flawless technique than anyone who has ever played the game. His strength (even with the stigma of steroid controversy) was incontestable, his athletic ability was indisputable, his timing was nearly impeccable, and his stance, approach to the ball, and fluid mechanics were incomparable. In the few areas in which Ted Williams appeared lacking, Mr. Bonds was pronouncedly adept (especially in his adaptability to strike at the low outside pitch, and hitting the ball with power to the opposite field).

What was it that Barry Bonds did consistently right, that most, if not all, other batters only do sporadically? The answer is 5 separate things. They are the following:

  1. He established a strong low center of gravity while waiting for the ball.
  2. He eliminated excessive movement of his head and eyes.
  3. He waited patiently for the ball to get to him while he quietly lowered his hands to begin an unobtrusive rhythm of his arms.
  4. When the ball got to his hitting zone, 4 things happened  simultaneously:
    1. The front foot planted quickly and firmly—front leg straightened
    2. Front shoulder shrugged upwardly, while back shoulder and elbow drove downward (hands, while staying behind back shoulder, presented a flat bat as the body was turning to address the pitched ball).
    3. Back bent knee drove forward and down, as hips turned rapidly
    4. The shoulders followed the hips in rapid succession with arms extending through the contact of the ball.
  5. From contact, through the straightening of arms, through the follow through, the shoulders were continuously flowing, until they (shoulders) had changed position (back to front and vice-versa).

Barry Bonds 5Barry Bonds 8Barry Bonds 9Barry Bonds 7

You might think that most batters do those things listed. Well, many may think, or wish, that they do, but because they do not fully understand the purpose of each, their commitment to applying them is less than wholehearted.

To be continued: “Form Perfect Models in Thought…”

Batting Deficiency: Main Cause for “Funless” Baseball

Batting Deficiency: Main Cause for Less Fun in Baseball


John Paciorek

It is no secret in the Big Leagues – unless you are a pitcher or the “slickest” of fielders with a rifle-arm and “speed-a-foot,” your chances of making it to the “Show” and staying there are “slim and None” if you can’t HIT! But most batters who had been signed to play professional Baseball had been thought of by their parents and “home-town” fans as decent hitters at one time or another.

Ted Williams exclaimed it first, but probably many before him realized the fact, and, assuredly, every athlete who has been privileged to experience the physical, mental, and emotional tension associated with swinging a baseball bat under game conditions can verify, “Hitting a baseball effectively is the most difficult thing to do in all of sports.” strike-outStrike-out 3strike-out 10

Many people, men, women, boys, and girls love to swing a baseball bat at a baseball (softball). It seems a pretty fair accomplishment—mentally sizing up the speed of that spherical object floating in a relatively straight path toward a designated area for the “batter” to physically strike with a long narrow cylindrical piece of wood or aluminum. It’s really fun! The skill involved is not just physical; the mental aspect includes the quick discernment of time, space, and geometric calculations, (and much more intense at the Big-League level). That’s why baseball (softball) games at family picnics and other recreational environments are such crowd-pleasing activities. And if no one gets hurt, it’s even more enjoyable!girl swinging baseball bat 1Boy swinging baseball bat 1Boy swinging baseball bat 2

For those who get involved at a more intricate level, like Little League, the game speeds up a little bit. The batter doesn’t seem to have as much control, as when dad or mom was pitching the ball. But the game is still fun; you just have to take it a little more seriously, more figuring and adjusting to more variables. And when your bat makes “good contact” the exhilaration is more intense and meaningful, even though your hard hit grounder goes through the shortstop’s legs for a base hit.

When you make it to Little League Majors, the pressure can almost seem too daunting. Everyone is bigger and stronger. You start asking yourself, “how am I going to maintain my .850 average? Then reality sets in, and more adjustments (physically, mentally, and emotionally) have been made, and you feel pretty grateful to sustain a modest .530 batting average. The .320 drop is attributable to the “curve ball”!strike-out 6

As a thirteen year-old, in Pony League, you’re now playing on a field where the bases are 23 feet farther, and the pitching rubber is 54 feet from home plate, instead of 45. Mental and physical adjustments have to be made! The pitching distance is farther; but the pitcher is bigger and stronger; and the ball is thrown faster, and it “hurts” a lot worse. (Remember, this is where your most imaginative 14 year-old pitcher starts to work on his “split-finger,” and assortment of other pitches, for which he no doubt will throw his arm out and diminish all chances of making the High School team, and the “Bigs.”) Therefore, an emotional adjustment is in order—“do I really want to play Pony League, or High School Ball?”pony_baseball_04pony_baseball_5pony_baseball_3

With a year of “Pony” under your belt, you’ve made the necessary adjustments. You’re bigger, stronger, and back in dominating form! New standards have been acquiesced, and your .400 plus batting average is a given. Your size and physical ability give you overwhelming confidence, and the High School coaches reinforce your attitude with constant pandering. Watch, stride, and swing—that’s all you had to do, and pretty good contact with the ball gives you a hit 2 times in every 5 at- bats, every once in a while, a towering home-run. Hitting a baseball doesn’t seem that difficult! Sure, every once in a while, in tournament play, one or two pitchers seem to be overpowering! Should you make adjustments just for them? (You have not yet learned about the Big Fish in the Big Pond syndrome.)pony_baseball_1pony_baseball_6

High School provides a whole new experience for the “naïve” hitter. Until now, most instructors of the “art” of hitting have been parents, who didn’t claim to be infallible artisans of the craft but only slightly more than incompetent advisors whose lack of expertise couldn’t do much harm to a blossoming prodigy. Where the Little League coach pampered the players, because his son, daughter and neighbors’ kids were on the team, and didn’t want to risk offending anyone, along with the rule that everyone had to play, the Public High School coach had no such reservations to inhibit his personal, somewhat tyrannical resolve to develop the potential of the players for his team. If you didn’t produce on your own recognizance, you’d better follow his specialized techniques, or risk “riding the pine” for the “duration” of your High School career, while lapsing into baseball oblivion.mean baseball face

During those High School years, the baseball player begins to realize that hitting a baseball consistently well must be the most difficult task in all of sports. Once this realization becomes prominent in the minds of the most determined hitters, an inexplicable desire to challenge the inescapable assumption that mere mortals are incapable of surpassing the pre-determined range of superlative achievement for batting excellence! To ever hit .400 again, on the Major League level, seems impossible, and preposterous to think it could be done on a consistent basis.

After High School, those individuals who go into the college ranks or professional Minor League baseball quickly discover that mere physical enhancement will not entitle players to climb the ladder of developmental success. Even with the greatest of physical attributes, the acts of seeing, striding, and swinging the bat do not always procure the most beneficent effects. Thoughtful consideration of a good many aspects of the entire batting regimen must be understood and applied conscientiously, in order for maximum proficiency to be demonstrated.

The question has been, and might always persist, what is the proper regimen for establishing a technique that will procure the consistent, maximum effect while hitting a baseball? Many have theorized about the prospect, but only a handful have established credibility through their practical applications and thoughtfully spoken and written delineation. But, of these, the closest to extracting a complete and understandable facsimile of truth has been Mr. Ted Williams, who happened to be the last Major League player to bat .400 over the course of an entire season. Unfortunately, those who attempted to understand and follow his astute analysis of hitting perfection, misconstrued his intent, and misguided countless devotees into a darkened abyss of probable incompetence.

Aristotle pointed out, in his Nicomachean Ethics, that, in order to begin a study of anything that would lead to the highest understanding and demonstration of its universal verity, one must “behold” an example of a closest facsimile to the ideal estate, study its admirable characteristics, and extrapolate from its obvious functional proficiency a common entity by which a generic standard could be discerned, duplicated, and possibly expanded upon. Excellence in any field of human endeavor is achievable to anyone willing to devote a “heart and soul” effort toward mastering the definable concomitants to successful enterprise.

Major League batters are at the pinnacle of their vocational pursuits. Yet, within their own ranks can be found distinguishable differences in individual mastery of skills and technique. The batters who would become excellent performers are they who would follow the example of the “martial artist,” by adapting to his study and application of fundamental movement principles. However, the alternative to taking martial arts classes would be to find someone in their own profession, who is renowned as a masterful exponent of their own respective art of batting. In other words, “mark the perfect man, and behold the upright.”

“Upright” does not refer to body-position while performing tasks. The more upright the body, the higher is the center of gravity. That’s not good in most sports situations. A low center of gravity is always preferred for short, quick, and strong movements of the body in all sports activities. Upright, in the biblical context, refers to intelligent, principled thoughtfulness that always precedes masterful behavior or action.

Barry Bonds and Ted Williams are the batters whom all prospective “high achievers” should emulate in order to attain a facsimile of credible “Excellence” and bring the fun back into their respective “hitting-game.”Ted Williams - swingBarry Bonds 1

To be continued: Models of Excellence!

The Prospect of Winning

The Prospect of Winning


John F. Paciorek

Is there ever any fun in any endeavor that presents no prospect for winning? Fun and profitability can be found only in the patient, subsequent, sequential learning and properly proficient application of the skills (physical, mental, and psychological) that are entailed in the ultimate prospect of WINNING! Everyone can be a “winner” according to the extent to which he diligently ascribes to the preceding statement.

A notable historic Persian Poet, by the name of Rumi implies that, in all of life’s competitive encounters, there is a viable alternative to the traditional conclusion that someone wins while another loses. From this we can assume that no one really wins unless everyone wins.

The greatest motivational tool to learning and teaching is to have fun. The teacher has fun by seeing his students have fun. He vicariously puts himself in their place and visualizes how he might have enjoyed that same experience when he was of their age. The student(s) have fun by first giving the teacher the benefit of not doubting his intent to increase their knowledge and understanding about the subject in order to allow them the opportunity to improve their proficiency in applying themselves to the lesson pertaining to their own prospect for winning an improved status in Life itself.

With all my youngest students, I generally ask if they are ready to have FUN.  Their hearty reply is always the first indication they are ready to accept my instruction and commence on a joyful journey of fun by way of enhanced application of learning. My older students already know from past experience that they are going to have fun, but don’t always accept willingly the prelude to their version of fun in the form of preliminary exercise and warm-ups. They want immediate access to the more “meaty” subject matter. Some perform the “ritual” vigorously, with the apparent understanding of its ultimate benefit to those wanting to be the best they can be. Others half-heartily go “through the motions”, perhaps thinking they are preserving energy to perform more adeptly at the later stages of the lesson. But as long as each student has a smile on his/her face, I know learning in varying degrees is taking place. And each, to his own degree of substantive learning, is a winner, to that degree.

In Sports, either during an innocuous game in P.E. and recess, or vigorous inter-scholastic competition, the primary purpose for which each player is participating is to WIN! But winning, to most participants, is the act of being victorious over an opposing team or individual. But those who have studied the “game” know that true “winning” is the natural consequence of “right thinking and acting” while in pursuance of objective after objective in route to achieving a pre-determined goal. In Golf, a commentator may say, Tiger just “hit a winner”; in Basketball, Koby’s 30 foot fade-away jumper is “a winner”, but neither shot might have won the match or game. Even on a professional level it is easy to see how the sudden and temporary  elation of one moment of competition can be filled with ecstatic joy. The simple appreciation of a single moment of glory can make everyone a winner, even if his team lost the game. After the game you don’t have to ruminate in despair or dissatisfaction, but rather remember and dwell on the moments that you and your teammates (as well as the opposing players) performed at the best of their abilities. The ultimate goal may not have been achieved this time, but in its pursuance, lots of fun and exciting moments of opportunity presented themselves to remind you and your teammates of what could happen “next time”.

Some coaches attempt to motivate their players (students) to win at just about any cost. They would have them intimidate their opposition, with physical force if necessary. And they may even inadvertently intimidate their own players with the intent to “harden them” to the point of insensitivity toward anyone who would oppose their own collective purpose of winning. It would be difficult to detect in this scenario any sense of joy that most parents would hope to see their children experience. The best coach is always one who emphasizes all the fundamental components that the game entails and an attitude (mental and emotional) that inspires all of his players to do the best they can do each moment of every practice while performing the essential skills he has introduced to them for the purpose of eventually gaining a proficiency to their highest level of competency. His objective is not to instill in his players the idea to “be better than everyone else”, but rather to “be the best he or she can be” – only to “be better today than you were yesterday”. How much better is totally up to each individual. If everyone reaches that simple objective each day, he certainly can consider him/herself a WINNER.

As “there is no way to happiness, happiness is the way”, so, there is no precedence to Happiness but by “Having Fun”. Having fun is discerned at the first sign of accomplishment, and is reinforced in subsequent steps of learning. The joy of “self-accomplishment” intrinsically inculcates into the minds of fledgling youth the notion that living life to the fullest is FUN! But of course, supervision and propriety are necessary forays with which to learn the natural sequence to all constructive enterprise.

If the teaching – learning experience occurs in subsequent steps, sequential development is their natural consequence, and joyful expectation of progress eventuates in the ecstatic revelation that his/her patience has indeed paid off as the entire journey culminates in a “fun-filled” adventure.

Coming Soon:

The Ultimate Baseball Learning Experience – Batting and Throwing Correctly.

Fun: The Way to Baseball Happiness

Fun: The Way to Baseball Happiness!


John F. Paciorek

How can I have fun playing baseball if I am 5 years old and have never before played the game? I have never caught, thrown, or batted a baseball.  This scenario might be considered a “stage 1” category of developmental (kindergarten level) inquiry. A 5 year old who would ask such a question must have seen the game being played by children his age (or perhaps older) who appeared to be having fun. He must have noticed the children hitting, catching, and throwing a round ball while running to and from various positions on a diamond shaped field with fence around the perimeter. IF he had not someone to show or teach him the simple fundamentals of playing the game, perhaps his imagination was cultivated enough to allow him to pretend that he too could perform the actions that he saw being displayed on that field or park, in the privacy of his own mind. As his body was becoming more capable of mimicking the actions of throwing, catching, and batting imaginary objects in and from the “air” while running bases and chasing balls from fictitious projections of his mind, he might have elicited from himself a readiness to experience the real thing if and when the opportunity presented itself.

I can only imagine what may have become of this erstwhile baseball prospect, but I saw firsthand how my 3 year-old brother initiated his baseball career. I was a senior on my High School baseball team in the early 1960s. All my relatives and sometimes professional baseball scouts would come out to see me show off my particular talents. Our team often played its games on Sandlot fields with 3 other adjacent fields back to back to back. Sometimes all fields were being used at the same time. Other times, only one field was in use.

It became common occurrence that while my game was proceeding on field one, my little brother would look forward to watching my game for a while. Then after moments of gaining inspiration and enthusiasm, he would run off to field two, directly behind mine. And there he would stay for 7 to 9 innings mimicking all the action he saw displayed on field one. Pretending to pitch the ball, then hitting the pretend ball, then run the (real) 90 foot bases, sliding into 2nd, 3rd, and home bases. He would usually continue this exuberant activity for my entire game. And it wouldn’t be uncommon to observe the people in “our” stands looking over the guard railing onto the adjacent field watching the antics of a remarkable young baseball prospect in the initial stages of his long baseball career.

To be continued, later this week.

Baseball in its Purist Form: Individual, Collective, Universal Appeal

Baseball in its Purist Form:

Individual, Collective, Universal Appeal

Ken Burn’s Baseball emphasizes the indigenous character and homespun heritage of our country’s National Pastime. By implication it can be inferred that the innovative and endearing qualities of America can transform a world willing to incorporate the essence of those qualities into an enduring fabric for their own mental and physical environments.

The Game of Baseball is the ultimate in sports activity! To all participants, players or fans, its unique simplicity conveys a human drama, and then reveals and resolves the complexities that would elicit trauma from life’s uncertain circumstances. Nine players take to the field with intent to defend what is considered their “turf” against the encroachment of others. They spend as little time as possible in defense of this nebulous expanse of territory, for, after a successful defensive stratagem, an opposing team of nine players gets an equal opportunity to defend what then becomes its territorial possession. And the game goes on for an indefinite period of time, normally expressed in terms accepted as “nine innings”.

“Could mere human contrivance order such preciseness, from the tri-hedral dimensions of the field of play, to the definitive specifications and range of intricate function for the designated participants?” – Socrates


A unique feature of the rules of engagement is the civility with which all participants are expected to conduct themselves, with respect to the range of their designated positions and the thoughtful concern for the well being of their opponents. A flagrant disrespect for either could instigate an immediate expulsion from the theater of play.

It would be difficult to exalt any particular field position above another, in rank or prestige, for it is incumbent upon each to perform equitably as various game circumstances present themselves. However, the prominence extolled to the “Pitcher” is unavoidable because he initiates and sustains the rhythm of play by his action of throwing the “ball” (baseball). The quality of the pitcher’s performance is determined by how well he is able to prevent the opposing player(s) from initiating action that would allow his (their) team to successfully encroach within the borders of pre-designated areas of defensive territory. The extent to which each “foil” to the pitcher is successful in fulfilling his goal will invariably determine which team wins the game.

In Baseball the singular concepts of individual and collective (team) excellence are intertwined masterfully. And the team that embodies such synergistic essence and complies with the highest standard of personal and collective excellence produces a “Championship” quality.

The high-quality pitcher is he who is adept at either preventing the “batter” (opposing player) from hitting the ball, or whose pitches prevent the batter from hitting the ball well. But, if the ball is hit, the pitcher expects his teammates to perform optimally when applying their fielding skills. Preventing the batter from permeating the invisible “shield” of defense and presenting his own offensive position on the “base-paths” is the mutual goal of the pitcher and his defensive team.

The first line in the “offensive” continuum is for a batter to get on the “base-paths,” either by hitting the ball, being struck by a pitched ball, or receiving a “base-on-balls”(4 errant pitches to the batter). Once the batter attains position on one the three bases (first, second, or third base), he becomes a “base-runner”, and another of his teammates becomes the batter. The new batter’s objective is to help advance or score the runner(s) from the base(s) of which he has taken possession.

Now, here is where one of the many variable and ingenious characteristics of the “Game” comes prominently into play. So many options for strategic deployment present themselves, from the thoughtfully reckless to the intuitively cautious — to gamble on whim or to hope in a pattern of consistency. And only the one that works gives credibility to the “brain and brawn” that accentuates “team-play”.

The proficiency of each player on offense and on defense will determine his individual worth. And the excellence towards which he strives for himself and his team will endear him to his mates and adoring fans. As each player accomplishes his own mastery, the team itself should be beneficiary to the product of a collectively successful enterprise. And each player should also become beneficiary to the collective worth of the team.

Baseball’s enduring attributes, to all levels of civilized society, are those which foster relevance to equal opportunity for the individual, and a sense of genuine contribution to a collective effort. These afford respect that cannot be diminished by an insignificant standard to a presumably less significant status. Every player in a line-up bats, and every position is held equally accountable for mental and physical errors. The standard is the same for all players! What can be a more fair way of evaluating performance? Is there any other arena of “Sports” that epitomizes the “American Dream” more than that displayed on Baseball’s level-field-of-play?

Why is Baseball an American institution? And how can it harmonize the World to the rhythm of its synchronistic appeal? The genius of Baseball is in its ability to promote individual excellence while cultivating the collective aspiration to a noble goal. This dual purpose can only be applauded for enhancing the prospect of continuous, enthusiastic hope by all participants, both active and vicarious.

Within the context of its everyday regimen, Baseball is first a one-on-one confrontation (Batter vs. Pitcher) like Boxing (normally without pugilistic intent and public vilification). This defines a separate but prominent dimension of the overall game. But every individual player is innately humbled by an awareness that his own vain and tenacious effort for personal glory pales in comparison to the satisfaction of attaining the triumphal exhilaration of a “Team” victory. When the team wins, against an overwhelming performance of an opposing pitcher, the “prickly” sensation of a batter’s hitless night somehow doesn’t seem so abrasive. And conversely, the magnificent individual effort of one man (pitcher, in this instance) gives no solace to the individual or his team if the greater goal of victory was not forthcoming.

In Baseball, the adage, “one for all, and all for one” rings true in the hearts and minds of these “9 Musketeers”, with their collectively idealistic sense of purpose. In Football, Basketball, Soccer, and Hockey not everyone is under the spotlight and given his equal opportunity to reflect even a glimmer of those majestic heights of glory that all players in Baseball are afforded. In football, the “linemen” hardly ever touch the ball; in soccer, the goalie and fullbacks never score; in hockey the same is true for goalie, and defensemen barely score; and in basketball, the small man is virtually non-existent. What other sport besides Baseball involves so many individuals in a collective endeavor, all having an equal opportunity to be exalted to the full range of glory, playing positions where equality of skill can not be differentiated for maximum results, where size never has to be a preponderant factor, and (potentially) where remuneration for services should never alienate players or create team dissension?

Baseball’s glorious competition triumphantly celebrates the athletic prowess of at least 18 stellar performers. And the drama enigmatically exemplifies the nation’s struggle as a free-spirited and ebullient exponent of a workable “democratic” society. Baseball is truly America’s national pastime. It not only epitomizes the “new-wave” national standard for American “equality for all”, but characterizes the highest sentiment for democratic reform throughout the world. Except for what could be considered brief lapses in moral consciousness (early segregationist issues, and its latter insidious bout with steroid controversy), the level playing field of Baseball has remained virtually intact, and its pristine elements are continually being unfolded. (Even the latest “Steroid Controversy” that has stirred up a hornet’s nest will ultimately subside, and the game will resume, but with a renewed sense of moral legitimacy.)

Many people, men, women, boys, and girls love to swing a baseball bat at a baseball (softball). It seems a pretty fair accomplishment—mentally sizing up the speed of that spherical object floating in a relatively straight path toward a designated area for the “batter” to physically strike with a long narrow cylindrical piece of wood or aluminum. It’s really fun! The skill involved is not just physical; the mental aspect includes the quick discernment of time, space, and geometric calculations, (and much more intense at the Big-League level). That’s why baseball (softball) games at family picnics, and other recreational environments, are such crowd-pleasing activities. And if no one gets hurt, it’s even more enjoyable!

For those who get involved at a more intricate level, like Little League and above, the game speeds up. The batter doesn’t seem to have as much control, as when dad or mom was pitching the ball. But the game is still fun; you just have to take it a little more seriously, more figuring and adjusting to more variables. And when your bat makes “good contact” the exhilaration is more intense and meaningful.

But as Ted Williams exclaimed, and probably many before him realized, and assuredly, every athlete who has been privileged to experience the physical, mental, and emotional tension associated with swinging a baseball bat under official game conditions can verify, “Hitting a baseball effectively is the most difficult thing to do in all of sports”. And even after many a would-be “big-leaguer” realizes he/she doesn’t have the fortitude (or opportunity) to climb the ladder to the pinnacle of baseball success, there remains in his/her heart a respect and appreciation for those who do persist. For, those who eventually do make it to the higher and highest levels have the empathy and undying support of all who wish they could be there too.

There are myriad challenges a batter has to surmount while encountering the diminutive, ballistic (and frequently volatile), compressed, spherical projectile at the highest level of play. Most dispassionate and well-rounded athletes would agree that making solid and forceful contact with a bat to a pitched ball takes extraordinary, nearly uncanny, skill. An extreme exponent of supreme athleticism, like Michael Jordan, had to curtail a personal quest for “carry-over” Sports glory, because he found the demands for “Batting” proficiency too daunting even for his premier sports status. One would have to query over what uncommon virtues characterize the “legitimate” Master of the Art of hitting a baseball. (The dilemma afforded by steroid use has purportedly usurped the crown of legitimacy from even those most venerable practitioners of the “art”.)

Hockey or Soccer will never become America’s sport, because neither originated in America. Soccer’s disproportionate propensity toward foot-eye coordination, although addressing good carry-over value for other sports, will never replace the allurement of Americans for premier hand and finger dexterity. And the question that thoughtful practitioners of peace might ask of those nations where soccer is most popular, “what is it about a culture that a sporting event can invoke such partisan disdain that players, spectators, and officials find their lives to be in jeopardy under circumstances that elicit an unfavorable conclusion to a contest?”  And the overly “brutish” antics in Hockey have forever tarnished the sophistication of elegance and beauty that inherently characterize the movement of skates on ice. Stick-handling, passing and “shooting the puck”, and fast skating would be enough to endear the minds and hearts of most American spectators to a competitive sport that didn’t include the requisite debauchery of reckless body-checking and unmitigated violent confrontation with sticks and fists (weapons of war).

As the world has fast become a theatrical stage for public sentiment to display both outrageous and benevolent characterizations of humanity, a universal demand for the highest possible standard of excellence should be embodied by those who would be model-heroes for aspiring youth. Bickering over the trivialities concerning absurd compensatory packaging and equating successful performance levels to artificially inflating one’s artistic potential are two areas where public scrutiny will exhibit least toleration, even toward heroes. Once Baseball has cleaned up its Act on Steroid Controversy, and engages itself with its ever-expanding dilemma involving inequitable player compensation, then the certainty of its utopian appeal will be more in evidence. Until then, Baseball is still America’s endearing National Pastime.