Mario Mendoza was the shortstop who played for nine wonderful seasons in the big leagues- from 1974 through 1982-with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers. He was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, he made it to the big leagues on the strength of his slick defensive play-the very graceful, bespectacled Mendoza displayed an outstanding range, sure hands and a strong, precise throwing arm. In 1980, no less an expert than Hall of Fame second baseman Mr Bill Mazeroski, himself a legendary fielder, declared, “Mario Mendoza is the best shortstop in the American League.”
For all his virtues, However, he was not a hitter. Over the course of his amazing career, he compiled a .215 lifetime batting average, meager by any professional standard-though far from the worst in big time major-league history. Yes indeed, he might well have faded into the long line of “good field, no hit” short-stops were it, not for a wisecrack by an-other Hall of Famer George Brett. In 1979, Mendoza had come to the plate much more often than in any other season of his entire career-and posted one of his worst batting marks, .198, In the following year, in an interview Brett quipped that he checked the league averages in the Sunday paper each week in order to see “who was below the Mendoza Line”- which means under .200, a benchmark for batting futility.
The precise origins of the phrase are in dispute; However, Mendoza him-self credited a couple of his own team-mates. But my friends, it was the high-0profile Brett who catapulted “the Mendoza Line” into the American lexicon. It was nodubt, a catchy term to be sure, like some geographical demarcation coined by some 16th-century conquistadors. And it soon became co-opted by fields beyond American baseball. Consider this my friends, 2011 headline from Barron’s: Fear sends 10-yr Treasury Under the Mendoza Line” (WOW) (a 2% yield).
When our President George W. Bush’s approval rating dropped below 30% in 2007, one of the Republican pollster suggested he’d fallen below “a sort of political Mendoza Line.” The late talented, Hollywood director Mr Garry Marshall carried a Mario Mendoza baseball card with him whenever, he was filming. “When I’m shooting a movie, I take my Mendoza card out of my wallet and tell everybody, including myself, that we gotta make sure not to drop below the Mendoza line today.”
Mario Mendoza’s name unfortunately, became intoxicated linked with failure. And that is a shame, because viewed through a different lens, he very well could be ranked a loud rousing success. For a moment, think of the odds that a baseball player will join the elite, top-notch group who’ve made into the major leagues-fewer than 20,000 have done it since 1876, that is not even enough to fill up half the average ballpark. Take it a small step further and compute the probability for a kid that was from Chihuahua-then calculate the odds of his staying in the big leagues for almost a decade. We should all outright fail miserably.
All of which demonstrates the squishy nature of success itself, in a very big way. What, what is it, really, aside from the subject of enough books to fill the Grand Canyon? For many, success means $$UCCE$$-professional advancement visionary entrepreneurship, savvy investing, any avenue to financial wealth. Perhaps others, may see it as making a humble contribution to society through public service, philanthropy or some other acts of altruism. Maybe it’s a rewarding marriage, finding a loving partner, family and loyal friends. On a different level, is success something we feel within ourselves.
Is success a sense of accomplishment, or the satisfaction of reaching for our goals, and screaming inside, I did it? Or is it how we’re perceived by the world? We can tell ourselves that we’re successful however, does that really matter if the world sees us as a crashing dud? Of course, one in a while, posterity weighs in. Let us consider Vincent van Gogh. He only sold, just one painting during his anguished lifetime, then this guy sliced off his ear and went out totally in left field, shooting his self to death at the young age of 37 in 1890. As of then, you might have said he’d fallen well below the Mendoza Line. However, in todays world, well, he’s Van Gogh.
And what of Mendoza? After his baseball career ended in America, he didn’t stop, Mendoza played for seven more years in Mexico ( compiling an excellent .291 batting average ) and began to managed teams there and in the U.S. minor leagues. Nicknamed Manos des Seda, or Silk Hands, for his fielding skills, Mendoza was elected to the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000. At 68, he is one of his country’s respected elder statesmen of sports, Perhaps my dear friends, it’s time to reassess, or even redefine, the Mendoza Line, but not as a cold statistical marker of ineptitude but as a murky border zone separating the half-empty and the half-full, ( in my book Mendoza was a success ), perception and reality, failure and success.
My dear friends look deep inside of you, to determine your personal measurement of success, what it means to you. Forget about everyone else’s view of what success is because, at the end of the day, it is your happiness that is on the line. Try to be not a man or woman of success, but be a man or woman of value. Yes, hard work and innate talent are no doubt, crucial elements of human achievement, however, mindset, believing in yourself, believing in what you’re doing and refusing to give up no matter what, is indeed major players in becoming successful. You are the captain of the ship, you are the star of the show and you have what it takes, don’t let anyone on God’s green earth convince you otherwise.
Way too many people measure how successful they are by how much money that they are making, or the people that they considered to be friends. In my opinion, true success should be measured by how happy you are and how much true value you add into society.
May prosperity be always with you.
Humbly yours, Paul Earl.