When I was a kid, I loved baseball. I played it, I collected cards, I watched the games on tv and at the Astrodome, I read about it in magazines, I prepped my glove like it was Excalibur. You name it. The early 90s MLB strike ruined the game for me and I haven’t really been back.
However, even as an outsider, I was aware of Cal Ripken, Jr.’s amazing streak of playing in over 2,600 games. Can you imagine doing anything 2,600 times in a row? I can’t – that’s why I was interested in his book called Just Show Up.
How did he do that? I wanted to know.
The things I liked most about Ripkin’s book are the following:
- The idea of showing up for your team. It’s not about a streak or personal glory – it’s about helping your “team” in life win, whatever team that may be. Ripken rather unsentimentally draws a straight line from shoveling the whole sidewalk’s worth of snow as a child to sitting with Ruth Bader Ginsberg (the Iron Woman) and discussing consistency and greatness. I loved that he sees the same values and skills from one to the other.
- In many ways this book is similar to Kobe Bryant’s Mamba Mentality. Both athletes had a relentlessness and a patience and also a curiosity leading them to constantly and iteratively improve.
- Relentlessness doesn’t mean grinding, necessarily. Whenever dudebros talk about “the grind” or “grinding” it sounds life-taking and much different than this – listening, practicing, trying new things, and showing up. “Grinding” sounds miserable – this sounds more like showing up passionately and consistently.
- Cal’s dad’s quote – “Today is practice for how you’ll live tomorrow.”
- Cal’s dad on moving on – The idea of not compounding mistakes. If something is going wrong, slow down and do things correctly – then the crisis is over and your confidence is back. It goes back to patience. Ripkin gives the example of missing a grounder. Don’t panic – just slowly scoop it up and make a good throw. The mistakes are over.
- Cal’s dad on psychological time travel – You can’t replay yesterday’s game and you can’t play the next game until the ump says Play ball. All you can do is try your best at what’s in front of you right now. Focus and consistency and tinkering lead to praiseworthy streaks.
If you have a soft spot for baseball or learning about how the greats do what they do, you might enjoy this audiobook. It’s only 3.5 hours long, and the author reads it himself. (I should say co-author; James Dale helped Ripken pen the book.)