Baseball Advice for the EP Lab?

David Stein
David Stein
Former New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra once said You can observe a lot by watching. There are events every day which present incredible opportunities if we take the time to watch. One of those events occurred to the author during a recent business trip to South Florida, when he visited Pro Player Stadium in Miami to watch the Florida Marlins play against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Both teams were in first place in their respective divisions, which created a little more drama to the game that night. In addition, one of the game s best players, Josh Beckett, was pitching for the Marlins. Allow me to briefly describe what happened. Stay with me I promise, there are some good points. Although a careless mistake (an error in baseball terms) allowed the Dodgers an early one run lead, the Marlins came back and scored one run in the first inning and one in the third. In the fourth inning, the Marlins scored one more and were on the verge of blowing the game wide open but failed to capitalize on the opportunity. Things were still looking pretty good for the Fish, as they now has a two run lead and Beckett was throwing very well. There were no runs for either team in the fifth or the sixth. In the seventh inning, the Dodgers scored one run, making it a 3-2 game. Unfortunately for the Marlins, their hitting had totally disappeared. However, Beckett had things well in hand, allowing only four hits through eight innings. Indulge me just a bit more. All teams have what is called their closer, a pitcher who comes in and finishes the last inning when the starting pitcher has thrown a certain number of pitches. The Marlins brought in Armando Benitez. If you follow baseball, you know he is a feast or famine pitcher: he is either very good or very bad. Actually, this night he was both. Benitez got the first batter out but gave up a hit to the next. The following hitter put down a sacrifice bunt which Benitez misplayed, but instead of throwing that runner out, he threw the ball wildly into the outfield, allowing the tying run to score. All of a sudden, what looked like a game-ending inning turned into a totally new situation. With the Marlin bats silent, the Dodgers scored one run in the 11th to go ahead. They then brought in their closer, Eric Gagne. Seeing a 98 mph fastball in person is amazing. Gagne has an unbelievable success rate and this night was no different…game over. For those who may now be saying, thanks for the Baseball Tonight update, but what is the point? My point is that you can observe a lot by watching. I have listed four points here that you can apply to your daily situations in the lab. The first two are points that I observed just from watching the Marlins. 1. The focus that put you ahead will keep you ahead. The Marlins got off to an early lead and looked to be in control of the game. However, they lost their edge, allowing the Dodgers to stay in the game and give them the chance to come back and win. Had they seized the opportunity to put the game out of reach, the end result would have been different. There are times in our lives when we go on cruise control. Complacency opens the door for mistakes and lost opportunity. Just when we think we ve got it beaten and let up is when we begin to falter. A wise proverb says Pride comes before a fall. 2. Don t leave it up to one team member to carry the load. Here s another saying: Many hands make the load light. The Marlins looked like a team that had their ace in the game and felt there was no more they needed to do. Beckett was there he ll carry it the rest of the way. When we leave the job for someone or everyone else, the end result is never as good as if we had stayed with it the whole way through. What does the word TEAM spell out? Together Everyone Achieves More. Even with Benitez rough ninth inning, another run anywhere would have resulted in a Marlins victory. The last two points I observed by watching the Dodgers: 3. We will never, never, never give up. This was Winston Churchill s most remembered statement during WWII. Microsoft Word grammar check is telling me to revise that sentence. I think history tells us to let it remain as is. From the Dodgers perspective, they were two runs down and not close to getting to Beckett. However, they kept chipping away. Although things didn t look good for them, they stayed the course. Too many failures are one more attempt away from success. 4. Timing is everything. Throughout the game, I kept wondering if we would get to see Eric Gagne. He is one of the game s best pitchers, and the Dodgers needed to stay close to have a chance to win. As the game progressed into the later innings, Gagne was not warming up at all. It wasn t the right time. When the Dodgers scored the go ahead run in the 11th inning, it became the right time. Throughout our day, we interact with many people. There are moments presented to us that can have an enormous impact. Saying the right thing at the right time can make the difference to someone ready to give up hope. Who do you observe each day? Physicians, technicians, nurses, administrative personnel, orderlies, delivery staff, salespeople, and of most importance, patients? Everyone is from somewhere, living somewhere, and going somewhere. Charles Kuralt had the incredible ability to see extraordinary things when everyone around him saw nothing but ordinary. If it can happen at a baseball game, I know it can happen in an EP lab. Try it you really can observe a lot by watching!