Rule #82- If you charge the mound bring the bat
The start of baseball season is only 11 days away as I write this rule. It is the beginning of a new season of what is one of most rule filled games in sports.
There are rules to protect the “sport” of the game like the infield fly rule. This rule is to stop players from intentionally dropping the pop-ups to turn double plays.
There are also a series of “unwritten rules” that govern the play of baseball, that when violated give rise to the most colorful language in post game press conferences. These include things like a team should not attempt to steal a base when they have a large ( generally more than 4 runs ) lead.
But my favorite is probably the most violent unwritten rule in baseball.
If you have been grazed or nearly hit by a 90+ mph baseball to the head and you want to run out to the mound and punch the pitcher. First you must stare at the pitcher, take off and throw down your helmet and toss away your bat. You charge the pitcher with nothing in your hands or on your head.
Now this rule is both practical and necessary. If it did not exist every time a close pitch would occur there more be the possibility of a deadly assault on the field. Although it would make it very exciting to watch, criminal charges would be a likely outcome.
But as I thought about this baseball rule it occurred to me that life doesn’t play by those rules, that in life when we are threatened the response needs to fit the threat.
In life there are times you need to charge the mound WITH the bat.
I have been fortunate in life to not have to utilize violence or physical action to protect myself. I can count on one hand the number of actual fights I have been in my life, and almost all of those were over almost before they began.
But on the rare occasion that I was placed in a situation where I or my family were at physical risk I always brought the bat.
As a husband there have been a number of times when I was awoken by the “did you hear that noise” comment from from my wife. When faced with that moment you will find yourself looking for the nearest “bat -like” object to take to the basement to make sure it was the heater clicking on and not a mass murder looking for a their next victim.
So far I am 0 for 23 on mass murderer searches.
Beyond the physical threats there will be situations in your children’s life where you remain as the only defense against the cruelty of the world. When these occur the charging the mound with the bat fits.
There are situations where being the reasonable man just doesn’t work- you have to make it clear that this will not happen to my child. I think of situations like the child abuser Jerry Sandusky being seen by people in the midst of abuse and their response of reporting the incident in an orderly fashion through the chain of command.
Clearly Paterno did not have a bat in hand.
This is a situation where people acted “reasonably” to an “unreasonable” thing.
The mound needed to be charged, but the mistake people made was to think that it was necessary to throw down the bat first. I think if Joe Paterno and others had my rule to guide them they would have immediately call the police or better yet gone to Sandusky’s home bat in hand.
Much of the problems in the world today stem from the feeling that we are dealing with the presence of evil in our lives by politely asking it to leave.
Don’t get me wrong, I rarely have found it necessary to actually charge the mound. If you are normal, reasonable person the situation may only occur a couple times in your life- but when it does- have the bat!
You may be thinking two “two wrongs don’t make a right” and that “good will win” – it may be your belief that it is unreasonable acts like charging the mound with a baseball bat that has caused bad things to happen.
You believe this in part because I have raised you to believe that discussion, compromise and reason can solve most problems.
Although this will serve you well through much of your life, it will be a times a really bad decision. You have to learn the ability to assess the the gravity and scope of the situation and determine when “rushing the mound” is the right course of action.
I ask myself three questions before taking starting that run…
1. Is a the action that I need to stop going to put people that I love, or people that can not defend themselves at physical risk?
2. Is this an immediate threat?
3. Does lack of action have unacceptable consequences?
Quickly assessing these questions will stop you from needlessly charging the mound, and more dangerously not rushing it when you need to.
I think people like Chris Christy the current Governor of New Jersey have the swagger of a person capable of rushing the mound when necessary. I think our leaders, who are face with evil on a much more regular basis than you and I, need to have a personality that everyone can see is not adverse to picking up that bat when necessary.
It is the fact that you appear ready to do so that keeps the need to actually do so from happening.
The reason that batters charge the mound ( with or without a bat) is because it actually works to deter pitchers from throwing at their head. Not every throw at the head is accidental- and the ones that were meant to send a message need to be answered by an equally load message.
The world is a wonderful and amazing place. As you grow older you will learn to appreciate more of its beauty and want to be in it as long as you can. But as you grow older you will also realize that their are going to be pitchers in the world , like Sandusky, who are going to be throwing at your head- when that does happen- remember the BAT.