This past Saturday, Chicago White Sox pitcher, Philip Humber, threw a perfect game against the Seattle Mariners. To provide a bit of context, in over 100 years of baseball, Humber’s gem was only the 21st in the history of professional baseball. The rarity of the perfect game is quite impressive, especially with the improved training, abilities, and equipment in today’s game.
It is interesting to note that Saturday’s perfect game was Humber’s first complete game of his professional career and has only a handful of career wins. Perfect games are not often the goal of a pitcher. How could they be given their infrequency? They happen when luck, preparation, determination, and aggression all hit at the perfect mark on the perfect day. Further, they are very dependent upon the other players on the field, raising their level of focus and determination to be great to contribute to that perfection.
Since pitchers do not strive for perfect games, what do they strive for? Excellence. Since a perfect game is a one in which NO opposing player reaches base, through a hit, error, or walk, excellence starts much earlier in the game. Every time a pitcher walks to the mound, he (she in softball) knows he will face at least three hitters in that inning. The goal is to beat each hitter in any way possible, pitch by pitch, inning by inning. Each pitch is its own battle and a pitcher can be beat on any pitch. It requires attention and focus each time they throw a pitch.
Perfect games happen because the pitcher was able to keep their attention and focus through the game for each pitch, or pretty close to it. It has a great lesson for anyone that is competing in sports – compete one pitch, shot, play, or one second at a time. Perfection is not your goal but a result – the result of an approach, a process, a preparation plan.
Excellence is not rare like perfection. It is experienced daily when the commitment to excellence is truly taken. Play from your MindSide by striving for your own excellence. Allow perfection to occur by being excellent through every pitch, shot, play, or second at a time.