Last week, I sat down with one of Seattle Lutheran’s excellent baseball coaches, Coach Sleighter, to check in on how the team is doing this season.
Jeffrey: As a baseball coach, pick your favorite: triple play or stealing home?
Coach: Unassisted triple play. Line drive, catch it, tag the guy running at you, and then go back and tag second base.
Jeffrey: For those of us who aren’t at the games, how’s the team doing this year?
Coach: Well, we have a bunch of really, really talented guys who are playing up to their capabilities. And we’re better than everybody else, so we win.
Jeffrey: What are your expectations for this team going forward this season?
Coach: It’s our goal to win state, and looking at the way things are shaking out, it’s looking good for us.
Jeffrey: Awesome. Fill in the blank, the key to winning in baseball is ___.
Coach: Scoring more runs than the other team.
Jeffrey: Touché. These days you as a coach have access to a variety of new statistics, particularly in the sport of baseball. What is your relationship with sabermetrics and other new statistics?
Coach: Oh, I love it. You love all the new stats. The game is averages, and the season’s so long that all the averages play out. You might have a bad game, but it all balances out by the end of the season. So we love those stats.
Jeffrey: Any inspiring stories of guys who have shown improvement over the course of the season?
Coach: Well, start with Brandon Lulow. He hadn’t played baseball in a really long time, and he’s playing with a lot of confidence right now. When he first started, he really wasn’t playing well at the plate, wasn’t seeing the pitch, and as the season’s gone along he’s started really hitting the ball well and having good at bats. Then, for the older guys, Jacob Fincher. [He] started off slow, and he’s really turning it on right now. His hard work’s really started to pay off.
Jeffrey: What’s so great about baseball? You’ll hear a lot of people knocking baseball these days. Is it the greatest sport of all time or the worst sport of all time?
Coach: Not the worst sport. It’s great! When you win the game in a walk off, and the other team has to walk off the field in shame – that’s the best feeling in the world.
Jeffrey: I know! Don’t you just love shaming people?
Coach: I feel like that’s what God has put me on Earth to do.
Jeffrey: Well, it brings up an interesting question. How does God feel about the win-lose philosophy propagated in sports?
Coach: That’s a good question. For me, as a coach, I have kind of a double goal philosophy. One goal is the scoreboard – wins and losses. That’s competing with the other team. Then you have goal two where you’re trying to teach kids what’s really important. Is it the scoreboard? Or is it doing the absolute best you can personally do at something? Sometimes, the scoreboard doesn’t reflect that. You could hit line drives right at people and into unassisted triple plays. When you give everything you have and you work hard and play for your team, that’s success.