The following is a guest blog by my wife – and huge baseball fan – Donna Zajonc!
My husband and I are Seattle Mariner baseball fans. We’ve remained fans despite their decade-long string of losing seasons and “record” of scoring fewer runs last year than any team in all of Major League Baseball. This year we have several young powerful players who can really hit the ball, so we entered this season with some hope.
Just when I thought our Mariners were making progress, White Sox pitcher Philip Humber threw a perfect game against them last week. (There have been only 21 perfect games in major league baseball history!) While a perfect game is celebrated in baseball folklore, it is an embarrassing moment for the team that endures the humiliation of not getting a single hit or base runner. How would the young Mariner’s respond?
They won their next four games and last night they came back from a two run deficit to tie the game in the 9th inning to send the game to extra innings. Mariner’s center fielder Michael Saunders hit a grand slam homerun in the 10th inning and the Mariner’s went on to easily win the game. In the post-game interview Saunders said, “After the perfect game was thrown against us last week, we knew we had to accept the challenge. We are better than that. We decided to not allow the perfect game to distract us and we upped our commitment to swinging the bat and scoring runs.”
It would be easy for the young players to view that perfect game as a Persecutor. It they focused on their humiliation, their anxiety would increase—which certainly does not help when they must be ready to hit a 90 mile an hour ball coming their way. Successful baseball players have an amazing ability to shake off their last strike-out and be ready to hit the next time they are up to bat.
In this case, Michael Saunders and his teammates saw the perfect game as a Challenger and helped them focus on looking forward, focusing on what they want to accomplish, not looking backward and worrying about the past. A challenger often evokes greatness in others, even though it might not be apparent at the time. What currently appears as a defeat or challenge to you that you can turn into your next grand slam home run?