Struck out looking!
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. -Psalm 90:12 (NIV)
When Miguel Cabrera retires from baseball, he will be a Hall of Famer, because he has been really good for a really long time. But in 2012, Cabrera had an amazing season, even by his standards. Playing third base for the Detroit Tigers, he was the American League MVP and the first Triple-Crown winner in 45 years, leading the league in home runs (44), RBIs (139), and batting average (.330). Riding Cabrera's leadership, the Tigers made the 2012 World Series, but there they struggled against the San Francisco Giants, and found themselves down, three games to none, one game away from elimination.
Cabrera came to the plate in the bottom of the 10th inning of Game 4, his team down a run with two outs. Given his performance all season, most people liked his chances to extend the Tigers' fading hopes for one more inning, then who knows? He worked the count to 2-2, then fought off pitch number 5, fouling it back to stay alive. As he dug in for the sixth pitch, the tension was palpable. The Giants pitcher, Sergio Romo, shook off the sign for a slider, his strongest pitch, then nodded for his fastball and reared back. The ball zipped in, starting at waist-level on the outside, then dipping and curling to thigh-high, just inside the middle of the plate. Cabrera, expecting the slider, cocked his bat to crush the pitch, but checked his swing as the ball popped the leather of the catcher's mitt. The Giants were champs. MVP Miguel Cabrera had struck out looking, the first player to end a World Series on a called third strike since Goose Goslin in 1925.
"Miggy" Cabrera was classy and philosophical afterward. A native of Venezuela, he graciously answered questions in his second language of English. It had been a great season, the nature of the game is someone has to lose, the Giants had played an outstanding series. He scoffed at the idea that replays of his non-swinging strikeout would somehow scar him for life. Sure, he would have preferred the series had ended differently, but how could anyone blessed as he was ever feel anything but gratitude toward the game he loved?
As a lifelong sports fan and "wanna be" athlete, I love watching ball players in almost any sport have a season like Miguel Cabrera had in 2012, especially when they bring the joy, sportsmanship, and enthusiasm to the game that he does. That said, Cabrera and the Tigers have not been back to a World Series since.
As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. -John 9:4 (NIV)
The number of opportunities we have in life to accomplish something of magnitude is limited. If we don't take advantage, there is no promise of another chance. But even the most successful among us encounter a lot of failure. During his MVP, Triple Crown-winning 2012 season, Miguel Cabrera didn't get a hit more than two-thirds of the time! So I don't expect to bat 1.000. But I can resolve to do this: When I'm in the batter's box, I'm taking my swings.
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. -Ephesians 5:15-16 (NIV)