Sports

Thursday, Apr 24 2014 02:30 PM

Taking advice from a man named Chili

We love to worry. Competition is the ability to adapt, evolve and overcome the strengths of your opponents by using your strengths to expose their weaknesses. We live in a culture infatuated with scouting reports, video breakdowns and analysis of our opponents. However, what makes the best the best at what they do, is that they focus on themselves.

Case in point, do you know which American League baseball team has the most wins in the last two seasons? Probably the Boston Red Sox, right, since they won the World Series last year? Nope, not them. Must be the Detroit Tigers then, AL Central champs, big hitters? Not them, either.

It's the Oakland Athletics. They've not only won the AL West each of the last two years, they've won a combined 198 ballgames in that stretch. The most in the American League. They don't have the names of the Red Sox, Tigers, Angels or Yankees, and they certainly don't have that kind of money, but what they do have is hitting coach Chili Davis and his approach to hitting.

I grew up watching Davis when he played for a couple big league teams, most notably the Angels and Giants throughout his 18-year career. I knew he was a good hitter with a career .274 batting average and great name to boot; but what I didn't realize is he has a hitting approach known simply as "create your own zone."

This was being talked about in a recent A's-Angels telecast on ESPN, the "create your own zone" approach by the Athletics is starting to gain notoriety around Major League Baseball. The premise is simply this; stop worrying about the strengths of the pitcher you're facing, and focus on the pitch you prefer to hit in your zone.

It's that simple, and watch the A's play, they know when they see their pitch and rarely do they waste a swing or get cheated when they decide to take a hack at a ball.

If that philosophy works in baseball it must work in life right? I mean we all have things we do very well, but too often we're concerned about the challenges that lay ahead of us or the strengths of others around us without confidence in what makes us special and productive.

There's a reason why 170-pound hitters in the Oakland lineup can knock the ball out of the park as opposed to hitting a ground ball. They focus on their pitch in the zone that they have created for themselves.

Who cares if you can't hit the slider ...you don't need to swing at sliders, eventually you'll get the fastball somewhere in your own zone with the ability to take it anywhere you would like.

The best hitter, however, can't win every game simply by using this approach. I mean, baseball players who are successful 35-percent of the time, or hit .350 are considered Hall of Famers. While succeeding in life 35-percent of the time might not get it done, surrounding yourself with a team of people investing in the same approach, focusing on their zone, will most likely make you a winner. It's the approach that changes the game.

So don't focus on life's curveballs, don't wait to react to the slider. Create your own zone, hit your pitch and always take advice from a guy named Chili. One doesn't succeed in life with a name like that unless their approach is airtight.

COREY COSTELLOE, a Tehachapi High graduate, is Director of New Media and Broadcasting for California State University, Bakersfield.

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