By Silas Grant –
Earlier today, a friend sent me an article about being a man. There were a lot of interesting tips. One stood out to me: “You don’t have to like baseball, but you should understand the concept of what a pitcher’s E.R.A. means. Approach life similarly.”
I grew up loving and playing baseball. So immediately, the analogy made sense. In a matter of moments, it seemed to be life-changing advice. Anyone who understands the concept of E.R.A. (Earned Run Average) and attempts to use it as an approach to life will see that your outcomes in life depend on your E.R.A. I’d also argue that the trust put in you by others is determined by this average as well.
E.R.A. (Earned Run Average) is the mean of earned runs given up by a pitcher per nine innings pitched. It is determined by dividing the number of earned runs allowed by the number of innings pitched and multiplying by nine. Formula: E.R.A. = 9 × Earned Runs Allowed / Innings Pitched. For those who don’t get it, you can view the E.R.A. Calculator.
Note: The idea is to have the lowest E.R.A. that you can get to. No pitcher wants to give up earned runs. So, the higher the average, the worse you’re viewed as a pitcher.
Example: If a pitcher gives up one (1) earned run after pitching for one inning and he is pulled from the game, his E.R.A. is 9.00 for that game. This is because there are normally nine (9) innings in an official baseball game. The E.R.A. tells us that based on his game performance in that one (1) inning, it would be expected that he would give up nine (9) earned runs in the event that he played the entire game (9 innings).
In most instances, pitchers are not going to play the entire game. So this average gives insight into what a pitcher’s performance would look like in the event that he/she played the entire game. So, when I saw the tip/analogy of treating approaching my life like E.R.A., I realized a few things:
– Performance determines longevity
In life, you only get a chance if you earn it. If you want to stay in the game, you have to play the game well. In many instances, we believe that despite our poor performance in the present, we should be allowed to perform in the future. We have to be responsible when it comes to our time, effort and output. With everything that’s happening in the world, we can’t afford to be under the impression that we can slack today and make up for it tomorrow.
– Get out of the 1st inning
Your responsibility is getting out of the 1st inning. In your life, you are the pitcher. Strike those batters out. Forget about the 9th inning. Get out of the 1st. In my interactions with children, I tell them “Your primary responsibility is performance in school.” Most children don’t have jobs until high school. And a lot of high school students don’t have jobs. So the most important item on a child’s agenda should be school. If they don’t perform well in school, how can they be trusted to do anything else? Such is life for all of us. We can’t benefit and earn luxuries if we don’t tackle what’s in front of us right now. If you look at the E.R.A. formula and the example that I gave, the longer that you’re in the game, the more the average drops. And the idea is to have a low average. So, work to stay in the game, you have to perform well. And that starts early.
– Time given
What happens if we don’t perform well? Do we get more time? Who determines if we get another chance? Most importantly, what will happen if we get additional time/another chance?
The answers to these questions are unknown. Every situation has a different outcome. As much as we like to have life in our hands, our lives aren’t always in our hands. When other people have a hand in the possibility our opportunities coming true for a second time (which seems to happen more than we like), it’s partially up to them to determine what happens. Although we don’t know what will happen, we can certainly determine that in most instances, we have more faith in ourselves than others. That is because when we want something, we have this ability to block out all negative outcomes as possibilities. Sheer will kicks in and we think that we can walk through a brick wall. But everyone is able to walk through a brick wall until….the brick wall is in front of us.
Simply put, when the second chance for our opportunities coming true are up to others, we try to convince them that we can do better, but they are convinced that we will do the same. And they base that on our performance so far versus what that performance would average out to if given more chances. That’s what the E.R.A. is. It takes what we’ve done and gives us an average of what we “would” do if given multiple opportunities in the future. While we are convinced that we can do better, others can only view what they’ve seen thus far through our performance. Let’s go back to the pitcher’s example given above. Let’s say that the same pitcher plays three (3) additional games. And let’s say that his/her performance is exactly the same: one (1) inning pitched and one (1) earned run. The E.R.A. is still at 9.00. In the grand scheme of things, the pitcher gave up four (4) runs in four (4) games. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but based on the E.R.A., it is.
– Get that “run” back
For those familiar with baseball, there are two leagues in the professional league known as Major League Baseball. In one league (The American League), the pitcher is not allowed to bat. At all other levels, pitchers are allowed to bat. So as a kid, if you were the pitcher and you gave up an earned run, when it was your turn to bat, it would not be uncommon for fans to say “Get that run back!” This would be the pitcher’s chance to get a big hit and get on base. If the pitcher was good enough, he/she might hit a homerun. Who knows!?!?
I remember playing baseball in high school. I remember joking with my coach about letting me pitch. He put me in as the pitcher at the end of a game. He thought that I did pretty well. I didn’t give up any runs. My E.R.A .was zero. So, for the next game, he penciled me in as the starter. I gave up a homerun in the first inning along with eight (8) other runs. NINE (9) RUNS in the first inning! Imagine how high my E.R.A. was!? Well, my coach left me in the game at pitcher. Later, I hit an inside-the-park homerun, my team scored 17 runs total and we won the game 17-10. Needless to say, I got the run back for the team.
But, the reality is, in the “big leagues”, you may not get a chance to get the run back for your team. You may not be able to go to the bat. So, you have to win the game from the mound as a pitcher.
– How good is your team?
On that day that I pitched, my team put up 17 runs for me. I put them in a hole and they had to dig to get us out of it. Having a good team of people around you can save you. They can go to the bat for you. They can also make plays to prevent you from giving up runs. I believe that life is a team sport. Treat life as such. Baseball is such an interesting sport. The pitcher gets the wins and losses on his/her record, but there are eight (8) other players in the field catching fly balls and ground balls to make the outs as well. You can’t strike everyone out. Have a good team playing behind you.
Your team can HURT your E.R.A. as well. I gave up those nine (9) runs, but some of the runs were based on errors from my teammates. If you look at a detailed definition of E.R.A., it will explain that in the event that an error occurs and causes a player to reach a base, if that players goes on to score, that run is not “earned”. So, errors don’t count against your average. But they still count as a run. The run is unearned, but still a run. So, be careful of who you have playing behind you in the field. They can mess up your chances as well!
We all have a chance, so make the most of your chance. Stop saying “When I get more money I will…”. Or “If I had a better job/car/computer/education I would…”. Whatever it is that is holding you back, attack it. Be better, be greater and make the most of what you have at the moment. Perform well. It’s your time and it’s your E.R.A. so make the best of your era.