A Focus on the Big Picture

Sometimes in life, you do not feel that you have been dealt a fair hand. No matter who you are, no matter how much you realize that your situation isn’t all that bad, you cannot help but feel sorry for yourself. There are people starving, people suffering, and people dying all over the place. Human nature is selfish; even when there are people out there worse off than we are, we often times fail to see beyond ourselves. It is selfish, but it is natural and it happens to the best of us. What do you find yourself complaining about?

For example…

(If you would like to get to the core of this post, then feel free to skip over the italicized paragraphs. But, keep in mind that the italics are meant to provide an example of the message I am trying to send! Thank you for reading).

As a college senior, I would not consider myself “busy.” That is, I have maybe 15 hours of class a week, and maybe 15 more hours of homework, MAX. I do not have kids, I do not have a girlfriend. I have my own car, an apartment, and I am relatively healthy. I get plenty of sleep and I have plenty of time to do my own thing. Life is pretty good. Heck, life is GREAT! Yet, I find myself spending more time thinking about what is wrong with my life than what is right with it. Just this morning, I found myself moping about how I am, once again, stuck working on a “group” assignment for a class all by myself. I was not too enthused when one of my two other group members texted me to ask what the homework was LAST WEEK. Not only am I doing the group assignment, but now I am helping other people catch up on their individual work? Maybe, in this case, there is a valid reason for the this person being behind. Who am I to judge? Unfortunately, having held the hands of so many degree-seeking individuals in the past (being one of them, that is not my job), I am unable to look past what I interpret to be pure laziness. 

Now, I stop for a moment, take a deep breath, and relax. The point I am trying to make is: why am I wasting my energy on something so trivial? This kid can’t speak fluent English. He isn’t even from America. Maybe he is doing the best he can, thousands of miles away from home, and just needs some help along the way. We all have demons, but none of us should feel that we have to deal with them alone. There are 7 billion people on this earth. Instead of focusing on who has it better than you, use that energy to focus on the many more people who have it worse. At the very least, spend that energy working on yourself. You only live once, so be happy with the life you have been given and make it count!

In the spirit of thinking less about myself and more about others, I would like to take a moment to look back at three of the professional ballplayers we have lost over the course of the past year. Many are quick to question what a team will look like without Player X, others wonder what the career of Player X may have looked like had he gotten to see it through. These questions are irrelevant to the loved ones of those who were lost. There is no way to erase their pain and no way to bring anyone back from the dead. But we can do everything in our power to help. We can mourn those who have passed and show our support for the friends and family who remain. Keep this in mind as you read about the following players.

Jose Fernandez – Fernandez died in a boating accident off of the coast of Florida on September 25, 2016 at the age of 24. A potential perennial Cy Young candidate, Fernandez finished his career with a 2.58 ERA in 471.1 IP. He also accumulated 589 strikeouts to just 140 walks (4.21 K/BB) in his three seasons with the Marlins, pitching to a 38-17 record with the team. During his defection from Cuba in 2009, when he was just 15, Fernandez jumped into the ocean to save his mother when she fell out of the boat that they had been riding in. I consider the story a must-read for any individual, regardless of their interest in baseball. Fernandez is survived by his mother, his sister, and his pregnant girlfriend, Maria Arias (Fernandez Family).

Yordano Ventura – Yordan Ventura, who pitched for the Kansas City Royals from 2013 through 2016, was killed in a car crash in the Domincan Republic on January 22, 2017 at the age of 25. Known for his fiery competitiveness on the mound, Ventura was a key piece of Kansas City’s 2015 World Series Championship Roster. He finishes his career having pitched 547.2 innings to an ERA of 3.89 and a 7.72 K/9 rate versus 3.77 BB/9. Ventura is survived by his wife and three children, as well as his mother (Ventura Family)

Andy Marte – Marte was killed in car crash at the age of 33 on January 22, 2017; separate from the one which took the life of Yordano Ventura. Having played parts of 7 seasons in the MLB, Marte put up a .218/.276/.358 batting line in 854 at-bats between the Braves Indians and Diamondbacks. Despite never quite reaching his prospect-potential, Marte remained a professional ballplayer until the day he died, having hit 22 home runs in the South Korean league in 2016. Marte survived by his son, who was born in 2009 (Marte Family).

While this article only speaks to three former ballplayers, keep in mind that there is death and suffering everywhere, everyday. There is always somebody out there who can benefit from the help or guidance of those around them. There are plenty of people around who could provide that guidance.

Therefore, to reiterate what I stated previously, “instead of focusing on who has it better than you, use that energy to focus on the many more people who have it worse. At the very least, spend that energy working on yourself. You only live once, so be happy with the life you have been given and make it count!”

For a list of all former, deceased MLB players, refer to Baseball Almanac’s Comprehensive List.  The Denver Post also provides an informative article about former players and their causes of death.

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