I never would have made it as a Major League Baseball player, and not just for the most obvious reason — sheer lack of physical talent. I couldn’t hack it mentally, either.
I watch games on TV and see guys ground out, breezily flip their helmets, calmly take a seat in the dugout and patiently await the next at-bat — apparently no more disappointed than if the break-room vending machine was out of Diet Coke again.
During my modest high school career, I considered every plate trip that didn’t end in a walk or hit to be an abject failure. And abject failure is an occasion to pay penance by hurling those helmets, smashing my fists against cinderblock dugout walls and thinking self-flagellating thoughts. Maybe you can act this way with a .450 on-base percentage over a 35-game American Legion schedule, but .390 over 162 big-league games?
Neither my knuckles nor the bat rack would make it to the All-Star break.
So if you get the notion I don’t deal well with my own inadequacies, you’re getting the picture. Indeed, I hate making mistakes, which, really, are even worse in this line of work. Not only have you misled or maligned, you get to print a correction the next day telling the world what an idiot you are for misleading or maligning.
Unfortunately, I had my first correction in a while last week when I inadvertently deleted Beaufort County School Board member Ron Speaks from a list of candidates whose petitions were approved and whose names will appear on the ballot in November’s general election. (This is not to say it was my first mistake in a while; I make those just about every day.)
It was a stupid mistake borne of carelessness and trying to move too quickly through a rote task — condensing text from a news release so that it takes up less space in print.
Again, my apologies to Mr. Speaks ... and the chair I knocked over upon learning of my mistake.
Accuracy is the coin of this realm, so every mistake that makes it into print or online is cause for reflection and concern (and, of course, self-flagellation.) That either makes newspapering the perfect job for me or the perfect job to drive me insane. I’m not sure which.
Anyway, considering the size of our staff, its relative youth and sheer volume of copy we handle every day, I think we’re cleaner and better-edited than most. Until we bat 1.000, however, there will be days when those around me will need a hard hat and ear plugs.
I can at least salve my insecurities by observing the mistakes made by other newspapers. Misery does love company, after all.
So, to cheer myself up and allow my knuckles to heal, I will at least remind myself I’ve never:
I did, however, commit an egregious spellcheck error once, accidentally replacing “perennial” with a term for a person’s nether region.
Boy, did the vending machine get it good that day.