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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.