In a Game of Failure, Success May be the Scariest Part

Baseball, it is said, is a game of failure. Fail seven of ten times, you’re a Hall of Famer. I think blogging, or maybe writing in general, is a lot like that. Even the best of us are going to swing and miss pretty frequently.

Of course, I’ve been told that I’m more like Javier Baez, which means I’m even more susceptible to bad at-bats. At the same time, it means that I’m capable of launching majestic moonshots that make readers glad they spent a few minutes with me.

But you wanna know a secret? It’s not the failure that scares me; that I can abide, even be comfortable with. No, what scares me is the success. As crazy as it sounds, it’s true. You see, there’s a lot more room for error when your parents and five people from Twitter are the only ones reading you.

That goes double (or is it half?) for theoretical/existential posts like this — and I can see the analytics, so I know. But when you get an audience, and when those folks start expecting you to perform at a certain level? That’s real.

My wife and I were discussing a potential dream opportunity that could be opening for her in the near future and she put the shoe on my foot by asking me what I’d do if the Cubs offered me job. Truth is, I don’t know.

Of course, that’s also like asking me what I’d do if I won the lottery. It’s easy to say all the right things when the subject is purely hypothetical. Then again, Russell Wilson keeps telling me my dreams are out there, so…

And that leads me to the legions of failed prospects, those can’t-miss guys who eventually did. Could Javier Baez eventually find his name on that roll? What about Mike Olt?

I don’t have a Malcovichian tunnel into the heads of any of those guys, but I’d be interested to see what goes on with some of the young men who simply never put it all together.

Sure, there were holes in their game that got exposed and that’s the biggest issue for any of them in the end. But part of me wonders whether some were so frightened by seeing their dream within reach that they simply couldn’t grab it.

Because the dream and reality are two very different things, though we don’t often realize that until, well, we realize it. And that’s also what is so difficult to watch as a fan?

How many of us grew up playing baseball in the back yard or in Little League and hoping to continuing doing it for a living one day? We see a little of ourselves in these guys coming up through the minors, getting the chance to do what we never could.

And so we pull for them to break through, to stay ahead of — or at least on pace with — the MLB learning curve. When they do, we laud them. When they don’t we’re disappointed for them and then we turn them into punchlines.

But that so easy to do when it’s not us. When I don’t have to deal with learning a new language and culture, whether it’s that of a new country or just a new lifestyle. I don’t have millions of people watching me or reading me.

When that happens, though, I fully intend on taking to Twitter to call people tarts and tell them how much more money than them I make.

I guess the moral of the story is that success may sometimes be more crippling than failure. So if want me to go away, you should just hope that I experience some measure of success in this writing game.

And should you believe these the thoughts of a delirious man, consider that I’ve spent the last couple days at a conference in Vegas. Maybe I’ll go see whether I’m scared of taking the house at video poker.

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