Friday, May 18, 2007

Failure Can Be Fun

Ron Gardenhire was talking before the game about how everyone in the dugout gets a few good laughs during the interleague games because they get to watch the pitchers hit. And it made me wonder: Do any pro athletes face expectations as low as American League pitchers when forced to hit?

It’s really strange, when you think about it -- teams fight for every tiny edge they can get, yet A.L. teams basically shrug and all but accept an automatic out one-ninth of the time when they play in N.L. parks.

How great would it be to have a job where you could fail at something every time, and have your supervisors merely laugh at how inept you are? Are there any other sports where this occurs? I can’t think of any -- it’s like having a kicker play middle linebacker, or a goalie take faceoffs, or Shaquille O’Neal shoot free throws. Nobody expects anything but failure, so what’s the point?

I mentioned this theory to Michael Cuddyer, who disagreed somewhat. He points out that pitchers are expected to sacrifice bunt successfully if runners are on base, and he’s right. There is actual pressure to perform in those instances. But the rest of the time? Close your eyes and see what happens. Not a bad gig.

Feel free to email me ( if you can think of any other low-expectation jobs.-- Phil Miller