Closing the Deal…

16 Nov

In the late 1970’s, the Oakland A’s had a pitcher named Rick Langford. Rick Langford was a starter.

This is not about Rick Langford.

In the early 1970’s, the Los Angeles Dodgers had a pitcher named Mike Marshall. Mike Marshall was a closer.

This is not about Mike Marshall.

This is not even about baseball.

This is about a shift in culture…

Up until the 1970’s, a pitcher was expected to pitch a complete game. He was expected to finish what he started. Relief pitchers back then were old starting pitchers who didn’t have what it took to “go the distance” anymore…

Then somebody got the idea that pitchers didn’t need to finish what they started, and the “closer” was born. In 1974, Mike Marshall became the first pitcher to win the Cy Young Award for being a relief pitcher.

The closer is someone who comes in and finishes the job, a person whose sole responsibility is to make sure that the task has been completed successfully. The starter is no longer expected to go the distance.

By the end of the decade, starters were no longer expected to finish their games. When Langford’s manager, Billy Martin, let Rick pitch 28 complete games in 1980, he was accused of abusing Langford’s arm. In 2011, the league leader in complete games threw only four of them.

So what???

I’m a starter. I have been for as long as I can remember. I begin things all the time. Often, I get quite far down the road with what I have started. But I don’t usually finish. I am NOT a closer.

At work, I am often successful at starting a project, moving down the road for awhile, and then passing it off to someone else to finish. I usually suggest that I have done all I can with it and it needs a “fresh pair of eyes” to bring it to completion.

The truth is that I usually get bored…

Or fearful…

Take this blog for example…

One of the reasons I was afraid to start writing is because I’m not a closer. And a blog is not something that can be handed off to someone else to “finish.” A blog comes to an end in one of 2 ways…either the blogger loses interest…

Or the blogger dies.

I would like to think that I am a few decades away from the latter…

So that only leaves losing interest.

There are things I have never closed the deal on.

I started a novel about 8 years ago. It sits in digital limbo. I can’t close the deal.

I am fascinated by sunken ships. Ten years ago, I started building a scale model of the Titanic. It’s sitting unfinished in its original box. I can’t seem to close the deal.

I have lost 80 pounds. I am stuck. I need to lose another 50. I can’t seem to close the deal.

I could ask someone to finish the model, or write the book…but I can’t have someone else write my blog…

Or lose the weight.

Are you a starter?

Are you getting tired?

Are you looking to the bullpen for a relief pitcher?

Me too…

What have you started that you just can’t finish? And what are you going to do about it?

You think about that…

Meanwhile, I’m going to start another blog post.

I’m going to finish it, too…


Posted by on November 16, 2011 in Self-discipline, Writing


Tags: , ,

2 responses to “Closing the Deal…

  1. Bryan Hart

    November 16, 2011 at 8:55 am

    I’m frustrated at times with myself. My Pick Four is sitting around unfinished (though I am still pursuing my goals in part, but not with as much intensity as I should put into them). I get easily distracted, give into my inner resistance to change and hard work.

    I am getting back though (As soon as I get over this cold 😛 )

    Thanks for the encouragement to push through 🙂

  2. Matt

    November 16, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Jon…GOOD STUFF on…

    Hmmm… I guess I’m a starter…

    I really liked when you….

    And then when you pointed out…


    Yep…I’m a starter.


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