You can’t always hit a home run

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You can’t always hit a home run

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A batter is standing at the batter’s box at the juncture when one hit could decide the game. What would you say to him if you were the coach? If you put too much pressure on him to get a hit, he may become nervous and unable to perform, so you say, “Relax your shoulders and play as you always do.”

Since I became a journalist, countless senior editors have advised me to do the same: relax my shoulders and write without pressure. But that’s impossible unless you’re a writing wiz. Whenever I write, my shoulders and stomach get tense. I feel pressure to at least hit an infield grounder, if not a deep fly or a home run.

Yet I think writers are more like pitchers than batters. As a writer, you need to be able to throw different pitches based on the purpose of an article, knowing when to throw a fast ball and when to throw a curve.

This weekend, I saw “Moneyball,” a biographical film about the cold-hearted world of Major League Baseball in the U.S. It is told not from the perspective of a pitcher or batter but the general manager, whose role is to bring about the best outcome for the team by scouting the best players. The movie is based on the life of Billy Bean, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics, who led the team to 20 consecutive wins in the 2002 season.

I was certainly impressed to see such a graceful movie about baseball. But at the same time, I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the idea that everything in pro baseball can be translated into money. Bean was convinced that he could come up with the best, most economical combination of players using sabermetrics, which applies statistics and mathematics to baseball. He scouted undervalued players based strictly on base runs and other empirical data. It was a breakthrough that allowed him to overcome the limitations of his small budget, but his method was met with strong opposition. The movie focuses on Bean’s determination and struggle to break down the obstacles of tradition and convention.

It is not just in the world of baseball that a person is scored based on their performance. Making money in a competitive society is like a series of games, whether it is in the major league or the minors. As a writer, I wanted to maintain my batting average of .300 today, but it feels like I only had a swing and a miss. If I were judged by the same standards as in the movie, I think the management would have told me, “Goodbye, and thank you for your service.”

*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.


By Bae Myung-bok
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