In The Science of Hitting, Hall of Famer Ted Williams highlights something that should be obvious to us all. When thrown from the pitcher’s hand, the ball approaches the plate at a downward angle of anywhere from 4-15 degrees. Consequently, to hit the ball squarely, the hitter must meet it on its angle, thus swinging on an upward angle of the same 4-15 degrees. Seems obvious, right? Obvious, that is, until you listen to many coaches talk about hitting.
“Swing level.” Level according to what? The ground? The ground is flat. The angle at which the ball approaches the plate is not. Therefore, swinging level is foolish, unless the level is the angle of the ball.
“Swing down on the ball.” This one kills me. Swing down angle to hit something traveling down angle and you get one of two things: a swing and miss, or a ball hit directly into the ground. Neither, obviously, produces the desired line-drive result. It’s foolish to swing down on the ball, unless the ball is coming up from the ground toward your bat.
The best hitters in the world don’t swing level and they don’t swing down. They meet the ball on its plane.
Now, before I get carried away bashing the foolishness of what is taught by many coaches, let’s be fair to them. Many of them are simply parroting what they’ve heard at a conference or were taught during their playing days. They’ve taken to heart what someone once told them. The problem is they’ve never stopped to examine whether such teaching and instruction is wise or foolish.
Proverbs 15:7 helps us see how this is true in life, too. “The lips of the wise spread knowledge, but the hearts of fools are not so.”
Fools never consider if the path they’re on is the correct and wise one. They have no real knowledge of what they’re doing. They do what they do because the people around them do it, or perhaps because it’s expected and accepted by those they want to impress. They simply go along with whatever might be popular at the time, like what is taught at the most recent baseball conference. They don’t look at what the best have actually said and done. They are like the foolish coach, talking about things that don’t make any sense and aren’t really helpful in the end.
True knowledge and understanding, however, are found in the hearts and on the lips of the wise. The wise have taken the time to think deeply, to pray consistently, and to study well the things of God and the things of life, so that they have a firm grasp on what is really knowledge and understanding. They’ve listened to other teachers and then examined the truth of their instruction. Then, they compare that with the reality, truth, and wisdom of Scripture. They aren’t concerned with being popular. They want to have knowledge that is based on that of the “best.”
If you want to be a great hitter, do what the best hitters actually do. Imitate them, even if it’s different from what popular thought tells you.
If you want to be a wise person, look to the best…God in Jesus Christ. Imitate him, even if it’s different from what popular thought tells you.
Lord Jesus, make me wise. Shape me to be just like you. Fill my heart, mind, and words with knowledge and understanding. Rid me of my foolishness. Amen.