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Idiots and Geniuses

One of my favorite sayings in baseball is as follows: "In order to be a good ball player, you either have to be an idiot or a genius." I didn't really have a choice between the two...

Growing up I was an extremely analytical kid. Since I can remember, I've always been logical and rational, attempting to solve my problems with reason. When it came to baseball, especially during my high school years, I had no other choice but to outthink my opponents. In Little League, I was one of the most naturally talented athletes on the field at all times. When I got to high school, however, kids started to grow - and I didn't. Baseball players left and right began passing me up, and I ended up getting cut from my junior varsity high school team.

When you're not one of the best players on the field, it is hard to get coaches to give you much of their attention. I didn't stand out, and coaches hardly paid attention to me. Most of what I learned during high school ball was self-taught through various Youtube informational videos and batting practice thrown by my mother.

I took the same mindset with me to college and beyond, using logic to find advantages over every pitcher and coming into every game with a plan. After all, I would've rather been over-prepared than under-prepared. Because of this painstaking process, I greatly reaped the benefits during my later years, making quick adjustments from at-bat to at-bat, increasing my productivity in all facets of the game as a direct result of the hard work I had been putting in over the last decade.

In high school, I was an idiot. After adversity hit, I was forced to become a "genius." So what does that saying mean?

I don't remember who I heard it from. It was kind of just one of those sayings that stuck out to me. It definitely makes sense. Face it: baseball is hard. As a hitter, you're expected to fail 70% of the time. Anything above that is considered well above average. Given this fact, most of us are faced with adversity at the plate over 70% of the time, much of it being self-inflicted given all of the bad at bats we take, all the bad pitches we swing at, and all of the times we get ourselves out by coming up to the plate with a negative mindset. The mental side of the game can weaken even the strongest of minds.

When adversity arrises, there are two ways to respond. You can either be an idiot, or a genius.

An idiot would respond to adversity by not responding. They are simply not smart enough to understand the problem solving process that goes into overcoming an obstacle. Oftentimes, however, the act of not responding helps the idiot avoid shooting himself in the foot by getting in his own head and overthinking himself into a performance funk.

The bigger problem the idiot faces, however, is having no solution if the adversity continues to persist. Sometimes failure requires an adjustment and, when we don't have that adjustment, we succumb to failure.

The genius, on the other hand, chooses the difficult road. They solve their problems with solutions. A genius treats everything as a learning opportunity and longs to become an expert in their craft. When adversity hits and they don't respond the right way, they absorb it, learn from it, and move on.

I don't want to sound vain and proclaim myself a genius, but I certainly wasn't an idiot. Because my talent alone couldn't take my career to where I wanted it to go, I had to be a problem-solver, which helped me learn more about the game and myself as an athlete.

Now on the other side of my career, I'm thankful everyday that I chose not to be an idiot.