Routine

Baseball is a wonderful sport. Baseball is strategic, friendly, both leisurely and tense, and the only sport with a mandatory song break–what’s not to love?

Growing up my brother played baseball and I played softball. My family spent endless hours at dirt diamonds across the greater Portland area only to come home and watch the Cubs or the Yankees play on TV. Our videogame collection was comprised of sports games including the ever-entertaining Backyard Sports series. We were swimming in baseball.

One of my earliest sports-related memories was when my brother sat me down and taught me not to flinch by tossing plush baseballs, footballs, and basketballs at my face. The method was surprisingly effective. Every four year-old should have a similar experience.

Aside from learning not to flinch, my brother taught me how to bunt, how to catch, how to pull off fake throw-downs from the catcher, normal older brother stuff. I soaked up everything he taught me because, to me, he was a sports god.

My brother was talented in every athletic endeavor: baseball, soccer, basketball, football, tennis, even foosball. He loved and understood each game’s strategy which made him one of the smartest players on the field. My brother made incredible plays on the field and, to my knowledge, was probably making diving catches as early as tee-ball.

While my brother loved watching highlight reel-worthy plays, when we watched baseball games on TV, he would get excited over grounders: “It’s all about routine plays.” Boring. I liked the double plays and diving catches like a normal person. Grounders and pop flies were the boring part of baseball.

I quickly learned my brother was right. Big surprise, the sports god understood sports more than me. If the routine plays don’t happen, the diving catches, incredulous throws to home, and fence-climbing plays don’t happen either.

Most of what goes on in a baseball game are routine plays. Routine plays are what most people consider the boring part of baseball. The fans in the stands clap when routine plays are executed but they rarely get riled up about them until the ninth inning. Interesting, then, that most baseball players have spent their whole life practicing routine plays.

I’ve never been a professional baseball player before (shocker), but I doubt the pros practice climbing the outfield fence very often. I’m sure their practice has more to do with catching pop flies, fielding grounders, field movement, and hitting. None of that sounds glamorous. In fact, I was doing the same thing, albeit at much suckier level, when I was 12. Why are they still working on the same old routine things? Because they matter most.

Getting in the habit of making solid, routine plays without pressure helps baseball players when it comes time to perform the same plays under game pressure and under ninth inning game-on-the-line pressure. Making a triple play under that kind of pressure is cool too, but is far less likely to happen. In fact, if you aren’t making routine plays, you’re probably losing and aren’t even still in the game come the ninth inning.

Baseball is all about routine plays; so is life.

Would you rather look at a highlight reel of your greatest adventures or a video compilation of every time you did the dishes?

According to Instagram, everyone would rather choose the first option (based on a 2017 Rogers comprehensive behavioral study based on being on Instagram–very objective research).

Congrats, you’ve made it to the seventh inning stretch! Sing along with Jimmy Buffett, live at Wrigley Field! 

All we want are highlight reels and we often forget the importance of the routine things. Routines are often described as “going through the motions.” If we truly understood that the routine things make the out-of-the-ordinary happen, we wouldn’t complain about them, but rather see the beauty in them.

Routine work is the most important work and the work we will spend most of our lives doing. While there is nothing wrong with a photo album full of life’s highlights, the daily things should not be discredited as boring, mundane, or worthless. The highlights don’t happen without the routine.

Going to work five days a week makes the vacations happen. Going to the grocery store makes Thanksgiving memories happen. Driving kids to baseball practice makes championship games happen.

Don’t overlook the routine; life is all about routine plays.

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