The Philosophy of Earl
There is a surprisingly long list of great thinkers and philosophers associated with Baltimore. When most people think of Baltimore things like riots, crack cocaine, murder rates, and bad beer come to mind more quickly than great thinkers. I have lived in Baltimore and became very familiar with the great minds like HL Mencken, Upton Sinclair, Edgar Allan Poe, John Waters, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Slappy White who have called Baltimore home for some period of their life.
However, I think that the greatest philosopher and biggest thinker produced by the city is overlooked and rarely mentioned except by those who spent time in the 60’s and 70s sucking down cheap beer and listening to the dulcet tones of Chuck Thompson recite the day’s antics at the world’s greatest outdoor zoo on 33rd Street. Rather than the rare air and pleasant savagery of the Algonquin Roundtable, this philosopher was more likely to be quoted in Sam Lorea’s Tavern on the docks of Annapolis or The Horse You Came In On Saloon along the Fells Point waterfront. It is a philosophy built on cold beer and unfiltered cigarettes, but I believe that the mind and often profanity-laced words of Earl Weaver contain many of the secrets of life.
The Earl of Baltimore managed 17 seasons in Baltimore and won over 1400 games with just one losing season. His team won 4 pennants and one World Series. They had 5 100 win seasons. Earl didn’t make many friends among the umpire’s or players, but the barstool tenants in Highlandtown and Dundalk loved the guy. He won often, and he took no shit from anybody, He was one the more quotable managers of all time and his words leave us guidance for living a life that might win as much as he did.
It’s What You Learn After You Know It All That Counts
This was the title of one of Earls books and should be a guide for all of us. At many points in our life, we will be convinced that we know everything that matters. This starts in the teenage years and repeats several times throughout our lived. The day after college graduation are often among the worst of these times when those who had the top marks in law school or business school or other advanced degree program emerge to challenge the world with their brilliance only to discover that not one fucking thing they learned in the last 7 years has one ounce of usefulness in their chosen profession. To succeed they will have to forget all but the most basic knowledge they spent so much to acquire. All the elegant formulas and grandiose knowledge they accumulated are pretty much worthless. It is shocking to learn that you do not, in fact, know everything, and in fact, it is highly likely that you do not know shit about these are the moment sin life where we will learn the most.
The most dangerous people you will ever meet are those who think they know everything because of their superior political or religious views. These folks are highly unlikely to learn anything one their leaders have poured their heads full of falsehoods and dogma and hey believe they have the high moral ground to simply destroy anyone who does not agree with them. They are the Absolutely Convinced and should be avoided at all costs. There is a pretty good chance these folks will take all of you money and beat you to death while telling you it is for your own good and they are killing you to show how much their magic man in the sky loves you.
You do not know everything. You do not even know as much as you think you do. A liberal use of the phrase “I don’t know” will make your life much more enjoyable and as a bonus, you are likely to learn more if you admit you don’t know.
I became an optimist when I discovered that I wasn’t going to win any more games by being anything else.
We don’t have a hell of a lot of control about what is going to happen to the world, but I don’t see any real point and spending a hell of a lot of time worrying about it all. Most of the stuff I have worried about in my life never happened anyway so why waste the energy?
There is a lot that can wrong in the world and life, but there is also a lot that can go right. I prefer to focus on that. I prepare for what can go wrong as best I can and then concentrate on the brighter parts of the future. Not even the most optimistic soul back in 1950 could have conceived of what cars, medicines, and homes look like today. The pessimist would have just assumed we would all be radioactive dust by now and if he is still alive and he has benefitted little from all the advances we have seen in the last 67 years.
Life will bring what it will bring. In the meantime, there is music, books, kisses, love, wine, beaches, bourbon and baseball to enjoy. You might as well look on the bright side. If the light does turn out to be a train at least you will die singing.
Do the dull things right, so the extraordinary things will not be required too often.
The simple truth is that life is made up of a lot of boring shit that has to be done. Earning a living, cleaning the toilets, doing the dishes, all that sort of dull stuff that is so easy to put off. Just fucking do it and do it well. It takes 10 minutes to do the dishes, or you can just let the shit pile up until it’s a health hazard and you need to pay a Hazmat team armed with a few hundred Brillo Pads to fix the mess. Do the dull shit and do it well. Your life will be better for it.
You win pennants in the offseason when you build your teams with trades and free agents.
A great baseball team is great because of the people on the team. You need a guy that can play the game and add something to the team be it an arm, speed, a bat or a glove. You need good people to have a great team. If they don’t add something to the team, you have to cut them and get someone that does.
Apply that standard to the people in your life. Do they add value? Do they encourage you or just sit around bitching about life’s bad breaks? Does their presence in your life make your life better? No, apply that standard to yourself and the people in your life. Do you add value to their life? Do you make their life better? If not then perhaps you need to start being part of the team.
Only have people in your life that make the team better. Make sure you are doing something every day to make the team better. Your life will improve dramatically if you apply these simple tests to your relationships and acquaintances. Above all don’t be afraid to make the cuts. If your shortstop is making errors that are costing games cut their ass and get someone who can play the game.
The key to winning baseball games is pitching, fundamentals, and three-run homers.
This is the key to life in my opinion. It needs to be a sign on your wall, stitched into a pillow or for you avant-garde types tattooed backward on your ass and read in the mirror every morning when you step out of the shower.
Fundamentals matter. Do what you need to do and do it well. Stand out from the crowd because you execute often and you execute well. If you are a ditch digger, be a good one. If you are a writer, then write well. If you handle others people money, then do it honestly with integrity as your first concern. If you are a cop, then be a good cop. If you are a parent be a good one. Learn the things you need to do to be good at living your life. Ask, practice, read and learn the things to you need to know to be good at your job, your marriage, or whatever else is important to you. Learn them, practice them and also be looking to get better. Avoid the stupid mistakes that cost games and can ruin your life.
Do what you can to get on base every time up at the plate. If you are on base someone else can drive you in and the runs matter as must as it does for the one who hits it out.When the pitchers float one or hangs a curve rear back and knock that son of a bitch out of the stadium. If you drive someone else in they, get to score a run, and you get a RBI so do what you can in life to drive others in.
Life will hang curves. I see it all the time in the financial markets. It sure as happened to me in my personal life as I finally found that one person who can live with me without giving into the overwhelming desire to kill me in my sleep. It happened to me professionally back on 2008 and I have had the best nine years of my life as a result. The key here is that when I realized the pitch was not going to break, I swung from the heels and took advantage of the opportunity. I have missed a few in life, but I also missed every single one when I didn’t swing. If life offers a floater swing. If you miss, there is another game tomorrow.
Protect yourself, avoid unforced errors, do not make stupid mistakes and when life hangs a curve plant that fucker ten rows back.
Tell politicians and preachers to leave you the fuck alone. You and Earl got this.