I’m going to say this as plainly as I can: stop doing stupid shit just because everyone else on the team is doing it. It’s not a good reason to do something in any other walk of life so don’t be fooled into thinking it’s a good reason now.
Being on a team is a lot like being in high school: what is popular and logical is often based on pop-culture knowledge, who is pretty, and who can score the most—on or off a field. This means majority accepted behaviors won’t always make you a better player or generate extra success. They will, however, like they always have, simply make you accepted by the group. If that is what you are going for, then by all means, follow.
Before you all freak out and act like I’m preaching anarchy in the face of team chemistry, let’s put some facts into perspective: you can’t play this game forever, and many of the folks currently playing would be selling cellphone skins at a mall kiosk if they didn’t have amazing physical talent. Not all, but many, and more often than not it’s those guys who buy into the thinking that baseball is all that matters in the world, and all that ever will matter. If they had their druthers, they’d have you thinking it too. After all, the more one-dimensional you are, the more one-dimensional you’ll see the world.
Surprisingly, many players strive to make their lives as one dimensional as possible because they think it will make them better at the game. But “Keep it simple, stupid” often gets taken to far, resulting in just being stupid and no better at baseball. Furthermore, doing baseball for a living has a tendency to make people believe their ways of thinking are superior to those who don’t play for a living. Chalk this thinking up to our culture’s obsession with sports and celebrity, which creates a near religious atmosphere for and around players. It justifies why some players eat, sleep, and breath baseball, and choose to ignore reality in favor of interpreting life by the way tobacco spit splatters instead common sense.
You must maintain balance! Life is bigger than baseball, and in your heated pursuit of baseball greatness you can create a really crappy life for yourself.
I recommend that, along with all your other on field skills, you cultivate a talent to strip away the pomp and celebrity that this job can blind you with. Remember professional sports is an industry wherein those who have on field success A; can’t always tell you how they got it, B; are looked at as authorities on things that have nothing to do with sports because they’re famous, and C; think being the best at playing a kid’s game as a grown-up is reason enough for arrogance. Are these really the type of people you want to turn to for serious life guidance? Sports success does not a role modle make—it only shows you what a good player looks like.
Most folks you go to for guidance in this sport should have a balanced view of it. They should understand the financial upsides and the sacrifices to get there; the glory and risk of losing your humanity; the temporal nature of sport and its role in our culture. If you want baseball advice, pick someone inside the game you admire and ask for it, but don’t be afraid to filter it. You’re a big boy know, you can think for yourself, and sometimes that means going against the flow.