Property Grunt

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Endure the Undurable or please shut up.

There was a recent article in the New York Times about Steve Butler who was on the verge of baseball greatness as a left handed pitcher and first baseman of the Westminster Christian Warriors won a Florida state championship in 1992, then USA Today's mythical national title. Mr. Butler’s abilities were of legend. He was Westminster Christian's best player and All American edging out two of his teammates, Doug Mientkiewicz now playing for the Mets and the Yankees A-Rod, Alex Rodriguez.

So where is Steve now? Pitching for the Astros? The Florida Marlins? None of the above the closest he comes to baseball is working as an athletic director at an elementary school and putting a suburban youth sports league together. This is not a bad thing. What he is doing is a noble profession. His perspective about his life is less than noble.

"I don't want to say I'm in pain," Butler said. "It's more regret. Obviously, if I had a chance to do it over again, I would do it differently. Without a doubt."

According to Butler his biggest mistake was playing basketball and twisting his ankle, which resulted the speed of his fastball decreasing significantly because of the air brace he wore during his senior year. The scouts also noticed his performance was lacking and he was not picked up. Alex however was having a field day, which ultimately crushed the pride and spirit of Mr. Butler who could not deal with the fact that his teammate was eclipsing him.

I think it’s obvious what the problem is. Its not that life gave him a bum deal. Mr. Butler is a big baby. Because the obstacles that he has faced is nothing compared to some great athletes of his time. Lance Armstrong was facing death from cancer and now holds the record for winning the Tour de France. Did you think Babe Ruth was a legend overnight? For every homerun he probably had a ton of strikeouts. Michelle Kwan has the Gold medal snatched from her fingers more time than I can care to remember but she is still out there.

Butler is not sure if he can make his dreams come true. He said he would need six months to train, lose a lot of weight, to quit his job and neglect his youth league.

What Mr. Butler is truly afraid of is failure. All of the barriers of entry can be overcome with a proper attitude and the desire to do better. But Mr. Butler has become so conditioned to being a loser has been that he has no will to fight for what he wants.

If he wants to be a service to these kids and if he truly loves baseball he will either let go of his past and move on with his life or he will drop everything and give it one more shot. Either way he has a lot to live for. He’s only 29 and he is quite healthy.

If Mr. Butler thinks his life sucks he should read the recent issue of Time magazine of wounded gulf war veterans. There are people who lost limbs, suffer from severe burns and a case of posttraumatic stress disorder that prevents one veteran from leaving his family farm. Those are people who have every right to simply give up. But do they? No. They take the offensive. They refuse to lie down even thought their lives have changed drastically. They still have the will to keep fighting for the life they deserve. Bit by bit these brave souls are slowly putting their lives back together.

One of my favorite episodes of Star Trek the Next Generation is called Tapestry which starts with the assassination of Captain Jean Luc Picard and he hangs between the balance of life and death when Q shows up and presents Picard a flash back of his life which as a young man at the academy who gets into a fight with some Nausicaans in a bar over a dom-jot game and ends up being stabbed in the back. In one of the rare moments of his career, Picard shows a deep sense of regret and shame over the incident, which was a result of him being a brash and arrogant young man.

Q offers him the chance to change his life and Picard jumps at the opportunity. He goes back in time and prevents the incident from happening much to his disgust from of friends but all is not well when he returns. Riker is Captain and Troi is his first officer while Picard is of considerably lower rank. He tries to explain to them that he is capable of more but they counter that his record shows otherwise. That is when Q pops up and explains the ramifications of Picard’s Faustian bargain. When he was severely injured and had to get a mechanical heart Picard made a vow to be the best Starfleet officer he could be. He realized that the situation was his own doing and that he had the power to be a better person.

Because Picard avoided that incident, in this time stream Picard is more interested in maintaining the status quo and not taking risks to better himself.

Picard realizes that incident played a key role in making the man he is now and demands that Q send him back to play out that moment in time which Q complies.

The point is that who is to say if Mr. Butler had not made these so called mistakes and done the right that he would be on the path to fame and fortune. For all we know if he had done the right thine he could have had ended up in the same place or worse. The point is we don’t know and all we can do is learn and move on.

You are all probably wondering why I have such venom in my heart for this man. Because of the disgust and anger I have for him is the same for myself. I have often caught myself in his position of thinking of could have, should have, would have. Not just in real estate but in my life itself. You say to yourself if I only did this, if I only I did t that and the result of this routine is self paralysis. And I know many people who have done this to themselves.

The Grunt’s foray into real estate has been a maddening journey of rejection, aggravation and tedium that has been sprinkled with very few moments of joy. But the Grunt is sticking it out. Even during the times when the Grunt wanted to give up there was always another day for another victory. The Grunt is the champion of lamenting the past, of drowning in the despair of lost opportunities. The Grunt is so good that whenever a moment of utter regret sneaks up on him, he is able to recognize it and put it aside.

I am unsure where this journey will take me but I do know that if I want to progress in anyway I need to have the proper attitude of simply going forward and never giving up till the end. Do I get tired? Sure. But I can rest when I’m dead.

"The kids I coach, they'll come up to me and ask if I played with Alex Rodriguez, and I'll say, 'Yeah, I played with him,' " Butler said. "I tell them that those who are talented are in a special situation. They need to grasp it and take hold of it."

He should follow his own advice.