Baseball’s One Crack at Paul Konerko

I came across an article in The New York Times yesterday, by the esteemed Tyler Kepner, about 35-year-old Chicago White Sox slugger Paul Konerko. In it, I learned that Konerko doesn’t subscribe to the “See the ball, hit the ball” mantra so many baseball players have found salvation in. Konerko, as the article points out, is more of an intellectual; a thinking man. And it was Konerko’s final quote in the piece, discussing his future as a potential hitting coach, that in turn got me thinking.

Never say never. But I’m thinking the game might only get one crack at me.

As someone who’s only ever been a recreational athlete, and having watched baseball my entire life wondering what it might be like to play the game at the elite MLB level, I was a bit taken aback by the quote. Baseball might only get one crack at Paul Konerko. Not the other way around — i.e., Paul Konerko might not get a second crack at the game.

I have to admit, I never thought of it that way. I always figured someone who plays baseball for a living — someone like Konerko, who’s made millions upon millions of dollars while doing it, and doing it well — was taking a crack at baseball.

But perhaps Konerko’s right. Baseball, after all, is a game of failure. It beats men down. And as I grow older, and I hope a very little bit wiser, I realize more and more that it’s that very aspect of baseball — failure, and overcoming it — that I love most about the game.

Paul Konerko, like so many others, chose to try and make a living playing baseball. It’s a tough road, with no guarantees. So many don’t make it. Konerko did. Baseball took its best shot, a fastball, at Konerko; it’s “crack.” Konerko recognized what was on the way, squared up, and slammed it down the left field line for a stand-up double.

Image via Curved White.




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Navin Vaswani is a replacement-level writer. Follow him on Twitter.


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talkendo
Guest
talkendo
5 years 2 months ago

Awesome!

William
Guest
5 years 2 months ago

I think this sense of baseball as a game of failure kind of sets us up as brothers from different mothers. I feel the same way about it. Any major league player in history has beaten long odds to fail less often than their peers. It’s a fact we should remember whenever writing some kind of negative piece about any ballplayer.

Card Archives
Guest
5 years 2 months ago

Baseball’s always been the philosopher’s game, but I find a piece like this strangely out of place, but not in a bad way, on notgraphs.

When you realize that baseball is a game of failure, you begin to understand the popularity of all the terms, credos and mantras that we’ve grown to hate because they do not properly measure a player’s ability. They’re essentially an insider’s rationalization of his place in a game that’s built on failure. It explains why baseball insiders (players, coaches and scouts) have such a hard time letting their beliefs go.

They seem to have an understanding of just how indifferent the game is when it chews ’em up and spits ’em out. They’ll end up hanging onto the little victories for that very reason. Whether it’s a player with hustle, a clutch hitter, a pitcher knuckling down, a player’s ability to ignite a team, or a productive AB.

It explains their love of contact over the k because contact, regardless of how soft, brings with it hope and in a game of failure, hope’s pretty much all ya got.

Big Jgke
Member
Big Jgke
5 years 2 months ago

I kept waiting for the blogger-snark to kick in. This was a nice piece, congrats.

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