Baseball clichés pervade the American conversation. “You struck out there!” “He hit a homerun with that one!” “Three strikes and you’re out!” Such expressions convey meaning and context because so many of us know the fundamentals of baseball.
Still, there’s one major part of baseball that is all but ignored by society. And, it’s more than a cliché. It’s a relationship. An indicator of personality style. Maybe even a commentary on equitable human interaction. It’s the convergent, continuous back and forth of the pitcher and catcher.
The pitcher and catcher story is analogous to so many everyday situations, so many personal interactions.
My questions to you: Who is the better person? Who is more valuable? Which, if either, are you?
The pitcher and catcher behave very differently in life as they do in baseball. And, come high school age, they are nearly never the same person—that is a pitcher is never also a catcher and a catcher is never also a pitcher. Their skill sets, and personalities, are almost always mutually exclusive.
First, let’s take the pitcher. He (or she) is the center of attention and controls the flow of the game from atop a raised mound. At his best, he is a dependable leader, chock full of confidence and talent. At his worst, he is an enfant terrible—a highly-strung, self-centered mouthpiece who complains incessantly when things don’t exactly his way.
Watch a few innings of baseball, at any level beyond Babe Ruth League, and you’ll see what I mean. A talented, composed pitcher on his game is nearly unstoppable. His fast ball is a rocket, his breaking ball kisses the strike zone for just an instant before dropping, and his change-up seems to take three minutes to reach the plate. When a ball is hit, he moves quickly off the mound to make a play. He has the mental wherewithal to backup third base on play from the outfield. He is focused and determined.
Then, perhaps it’s a different pitcher or the same pitcher on a different day. The same cameras focus on him. This time, though, every strike he throws is getting hit. He’s yelling at the umpire about balls that he thinks should have been called strikes. He’s “accidentally” plunking batters. He’s squawking at the shortstop for not making a tough play. Viewers can easily read his lips as he heads to the dugout, head down, and voices his frustration while throwing his glove against the painted cinder block wall.
The pitcher is an island. Or, rather, he thinks himself an island. He’s not one to share his success with teammates, nor is he one to shirk all responsibility. Encouraged by the media and fans alike, he considers himself the center of the world. The great catch made by the centerfielder to close out the sixth inning isn’t mentioned in his post-game press conference. Instead, he “felt good today.” The dinger he gave up in the eighth? A bad pitch because his elbow was hurting.
The pitcher prototype. Do you know “pitchers” in regular life?
Photo courtesy of kla4067.