Baseball Counseling Sometimes the Best Medicine

Every once in a while, something happens in our lives that helps us realize that there are many more important things in life than baseball.

However, during those same times, we realize just how great baseball is.

Without getting into too much detail, recent events have taken their toll on my mom and me. The one thing that we have in common is our ability to turn to baseball – and specifically the Indians – for solace.

For three hours (or as was the case Monday, more), baseball makes you forget all your troubles. There are no personal problems watching a game. The only thing you care about is the game and the 25 guys on each side.

When the outcome of a game hangs on every single pitch, it’s impossible to focus on anything but the game. Nothing matter other than the guy on second or what to throw on a 3-2 pitch.

That’s what makes the game so great. It’s more than just a game. It’s a counselor who listens to your problems and nudges you along the road to recovery. It’s a best friend who knows you and knows what makes you smile. It’s a parent who’s always there when you need it.

In his ESPY speech, Jim Valvano said it best. “If you laugh, you think and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day.”

That emotional roller coaster can be experienced in just a few hours of watching a game. Whether it’s laughing at a blooper, thinking about what approach to take against the opposing cleanup hitter or even crying about the outcome (hey, we’ve all done it), baseball makes it one heck of a day.

What makes baseball so effective is that it’s the most easily relatable sport. Take the example of the struggling slugger. His season is going horribly. The struggles are starting to take a toll on him, but he never gives up because he knows it only takes one good day or even just one lucky break to turn everything around. The same goes with life. Even if life isn’t going so hot, all it takes is one good day or even one stroke of good luck to turn everything around.

If nothing else, baseball is the perfect place to turn for a lesson in never giving up. The first example is the 2001 Indians. When they fell behind to the juggernaut Mariners 14-2, they didn’t roll over and die. In fact, even Tom Hamilton said after the game that the Indians were “dead and buried.”

They came back, didn’t they?

While that team showed that collectively, no mountain is too steep to climb, the next individual encapsulated everything that resembles resiliency.

Jon Lester was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2006. His once-promising career took a shocking turn and as is the case with any form of cancer, questions began to arise about his ability to return.

Not only did he return, but he has since become one of the premier starters in the game today.

Lester hit the lowest of lows when he was diagnosed. Since then, though, he has consistently hit the highest of highs. In 2007, he was the winning pitcher in Boston’s World Series clincher against the Rockies barely a year after his initial diagnosis. A few months later, Lester threw a no-hitter against the Royals. Since then, he has been named an All Star twice and finished fourth in the AL Cy Young voting in 2010, when he went 19-9 with a 3.25 ERA.

Don’t give up just because things seem bleak. Whether it’s Lester, the 2001 Indians or something else, there’s a perfect baseball example relating to someone who was in your shoes and triumphed.

You just have to look and believe in baseball.

Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images

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