Josh Donaldson and Basics

 All phases of life have basics that each of us learn, and it is hoped will always follow. Consider one life lesson taught to children:  Don’t’  run with scissors. A simple basic that teaches a potentially life saving lesson. If you run with scissors in your hand and trip and fall, the point just might enter your body somewhere and cause trauma. Simple. So do it because it may save your life from needless pain.

Not running with scissors in hand is a basic taught and learned early in life, and as we grow we are taught others as our lives expand. For instance, if a youngster begins to play chess, one basic that is taught early on is to try and control the four middle squares. Of course, a player must learn and follow the rules of chess but controlling the central four squares is a simple but strong basic that will improve play.

While running downfield in lacrosse with one hand holding the stick and cradling the ball may look cool or appealing, it breaks a basic rule. The showing-off player is in a dangerous position because he or she has less control of the stick/ball. An opposing player has a much better chance of hitting the stick with the ball and knocking it out of the pocket because with just one hand on the stick,  the offensive player has less control. Two hands on the stick gives more control in moving the ball down field.

Posture is an important basic in my two favorite sports. Each racing event, from the sprints to the marathon, requires correct posture for maximum performance. The successful  runner keeps the head, shoulders, hips, and knees in a vertical line above the foot plant. This is a very important basic, especially when tiring toward the end of a race. In wrestling all beginners are taught the importance of keeping the head erect, in every situation. If you drop your head your opponent can use your poor posture against you. Head up leads to better performance.

Baseball, like chess, is a game of subtleties and both are packed with nuances that demand the learning and following of basics. For instance, every aspiring baseball or softball player is taught to run-out every infield fly. Why? Just in case the defensive player makes a sloppy play and drops the soft out. Run to first base as if no one will catch the fly—just in case it is dropped.

Basics! Even the pros follow—or should follow—the basics. Jordan Burroughs used a basic takedown to win a world wrestling championship last month. He kept his head up as he scored two double-leg takedowns, a move taught to every beginning wrestler.

Josh Donaldson, the Yankee third baseman, forgot his basics in the division series opening game Tuesday night in  NYC. Leading off in the bottom of the 5th inning, the score tied at 1-1 with Cleveland, Donaldson sent an opposite-field drive to right field. Confident that the ball would clear the short wall at Yankee Stadium, he put his head down, began a trot (swagger), and slapped the hand of the first base coach. Oops! The assumption of a home run was, like most of those pesky disappointments, wrong, and the Cleveland right fielder followed the basics. He caught the bounce off the wall, turned and threw to his shortstop on second base. He in turn threw to the first baseman who tagged the stunned (still trotting) star out as he tried to return to the base.

So, instead of a runner in scoring position on second base, in a tied play-off game, the Yankees had an unnecessary situation. Had Donaldson and the first base coach followed a basic taught to all beginning players, the Yankees would have been in a scoring position.

The basics, like not running with scissors, are taught to keep us from self-inflected wounds. Like gravity they will keep us grounded if we follow them.

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