Although one of the best parts of earning a living as a freelance writer is that I write about a wide range of topics, one of the worst parts of earning a living as a freelance writer is also that I write about a wide range of topics. I am an expert in nothing with a millimeter’s worth of knowledge on just about everything.

Did you know that elephants grieve? I do! I wish I didn’t! Is it possible to track an asset that never moves? If you use a high-quality software enabled tracking system, to monitor its performance and surrounding environment, it sure is! Why did the U.S. space program decide to launch from Florida? Because it was using an equatorial orbit, and that meant taking advantage of the kinetic energy present in smaller latitudes in addition to the extant infrastructure and access to U.S.-controlled open water over which to test propulsion systems!

This means that I am useful on a trivia team and fun at parties except for when I am sitting cross-legged on the floor behind the bar so as to avoid human interaction. But it doesn’t lend itself to skill set optimization, strategic communication, communicating strategy, and whatever else it is that LinkedIn thinks I should be doing with my life.

I used to wonder at athletes who started in specialization and then, with seemingly little effort, switched to another position and even sport altogether. By this I don’t mean the often-ignored advice that young kids should never lock into one sport in the early going. I’m talking about Joe Burrow not only playing point guard on his high school basketball team, but leaving to play football as an All-Ohio team member with second-highest amount of points scored in his high school’s entire history.

How does that happen? Well, Burrow’s work ethic is quickly becoming the envy of the league, but when I was in high school, I could have practiced free throws twelve hours a day and never get anywhere nearer the basket. It just wasn’t in me. I’m not even going to discuss what it would look like if I attempted such a thing well after grad school.

But it’s in some people, overflowingly, and usually multi-sport athletes make it to the diamond at some point. Sometimes the crossovers are obvious: Our Boomer Esiason was once a pitcher, and Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders made the most of their speed on both fields. Five men have played in the MLB and the NHL, of all things.

Somehow, they all make their way to baseball.

About 70 have made a mark in both the NFL as well as the MLB. Perhaps it’s the way a baseball career tends to ease a body more gently into middle age; these guys aren’t laying aside the bat and becoming Thoroughbred jockeys. However, the hand-eye coordination, full body use on the swing, and fast-twitch release that favor Silver Sluggers are quickly identifiable in other sports.

No, it’s not a sure thing: Michael Jorden was coming along well as scrub on the bus, but he still wasn’t able to pick up a bat and immediately clear .300. However, the idea that the greatest basketball player to ever exist could also credibly present himself to Double A doesn’t seem quite… fair to us mere mortals. It’s the reason I stopped watching Dancing With the Stars; it is downright cruel to pit an Olympic figure skater against a news anchor when it comes to learning how to waltz. Somebody has an advantage, and it ain’t Tucker Carlson.

Joey Votto insists he wants to drive kindergartners to school upon retirement. No doubt he would extend a safety and on-time record to stratospheric levels. But the gridiron cannot have him.

12 Responses

  1. LDS

    One should never underestimate the value of a good trivia team member. Especially, one smart enough hide behind the bar.

  2. Mark Moore

    Absolutely LOVE this one. I tend toward the more generalist approach myself, though I do have some depth of expertise in a couple of areas. Frankly, I grow a little weary of hyper-focused experts who don’t seem to be able to pull their noses up from ground zero focus.

    Deion was quite the success story. Bo could have been nearly immortal if it weren’t for his mortality sidelining him. Jordan started a little too late, but still performed far better than any of us could. And thanks for not mentioning a certain erstwhile QB who took up a roster spot in the minors.

    Keep it up, MBE. We need something to get us through the gray days until ST arrives.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      You know, I debated about including That Guy, but Bo Jackson is the one who really blew the lid off the modern practice of this, so I awarded him the mention 🙂

  3. Daytonnati

    I wonder if kindergarten school bus drivers have a WAR equivalent?

    • Mark Moore

      War on the school bus generally doesn’t start until around the 4th grade 😀

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      It should be on the application if it isn’t already.

  4. Rednat

    i think the days of the Bo Jackson’s and Deion Sander’s crossing over to play baseball are over. Hitting is just too hard these days to be a part time player. I mean differentiating a 104 mph fastball from a 95 mph slider is a full time job for sure. I would argue hitting a major league pitch has become the hardest thing to do in sports.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I’m afraid you might be right. And people talk all the time about how violent football is, but yikes, that’s faster than the groundspeed of a lot of airplanes I’ve been in…

  5. CARYMAC

    MBE – YOU are an expert at writing interesting pieces that I love to read. Baseball or any topic. Thank you so much for your contributions! Will read anything you create. You are an expert !

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      that is so very kind of you! Many thanks for reading! Although you…. probably don’t want me writing about math.