Opening Day and Divorce – Dealing with Adversity

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Happy Opening Day!

Real spring is finally here with the first real baseball games. If you’re like me, I think you’ll agree that baseball season just makes things … right somehow. Whether you like baseball or don’t, seven months of nightly baseball is the absolutely best thing to have on in the background while getting work done. The only sport conducive to increasing productivity during the season.

I know what you’re thinking…

What does Opening Day and baseball have to do with divorce? Well, here’s what I know  … I’ve been working with families for a long, long time (maybe one just like yours) who are struggling with adversity, frustration, and fatigue. Baseball is all of that … everyday.

Read the rest of this article and decide which of two players you’d rather be  . . . the smart, proactive spouse overcoming relationship adversity, or the ‘that’s it, I’m out’ self-defeated one.

I Give You… “A Baseball Story”

Ted Williams said, “Baseball is mentally tougher than any other sport.” I don’t think that’s debatable. With 162 regular season games, 500-600 chances to fail at the plate, 200+ innings to get tattooed, and 50-60 relief appearances to walk to the mound in front of 40,000 people and throw two or three pitches that blow the game.

Like any marriage it’s a lot to deal with every single day and you can do a bunch of things right and, yet, with 2 or 3 words you can blow the whole evening – or even the entire month. I get that …

A lot of failures …

Baseball, like marriage (and divorce), is awash in pitfalls. Very visible pitfalls. Ted Williams was probably the greatest overall hitter to ever live (before you object, please look at his numbers, then recall that he lost five prime seasons flying fighter planes for the Marines). His lifetime batting average is .344. That means that for every thousand times at bat, he made 656 outs.

For every hit and walk (and he walked a lot) he made one out. Sometimes, he clustered those outs, made ten, twenty in a row before becoming Ted Williams again.

Thing is, even when he was forty-one and well past his prime, he was still Ted Williams, his age just added another bit of adversity for him to overcome.

Good baseball players handle the bad, great players smack it away.

I heard this story years ago, it has stuck with me for a lot of reasons. I’d like to share it with you to give you a new perspective on the adversity you might be facing today.

Do You Handle Adversity in Your Divorce Like Nate Colbert or Luis Tiant?

In 1975 the (woeful) San Diego Padres traded one of their few stars, Nate Colbert, to the Detroit Tigers. Nate was a hulking first baseman who hit a lot of home runs in a very unfriendly home run park while sporting McDonald’s colors.

He didn’t get off to a great start that year, but he was often a slow starter and no one was overly concerned. Still, it’s always tough to go into a batting slump with a new team. The best hitters have to fight back that nagging little voice in their heads saying ‘this is it, I’m done’ after going 1 for 30.

Ever been there?

Fourteen games into the young season the Tigers played the Red Sox. Luis Tiant started, finished, gave up one unearned run and lost 1-0. Colbert went hitless with a strikeout. After the game he went into such a tailspin that a month later he was released. He went back to the National League and the Montreal Expos (yes, there was a team in Montreal) and was out of baseball a year later at the tender age of 30. A three-time National League All-Star, gone.

And You Thought Baseball Had Nothing to Do with Divorce …

Isn’t it crazy how if you change a few words in the previous paragraph, that it could easily be talking about a business, a career . . . a marriage.

Well, the story I read, somewhere in the foggy past, was that Colbert told Sports Illustrated that Tiant ended his career. He wasn’t beaned and he wasn’t intimidated. He was so utterly baffled, confused, and dazzled he never recovered his batting eye.

Odds are pretty good you have no idea who Luis Tiant is, despite the fact he won 229 major league games, was a renown big-game pitcher, and pitched until he was 41. His story is all about adversity.

No One Pitches Like Tiant

The contrast between Colbert and Tiant is significant. Tiant was a whirl of motion when he pitched. He turned his back on the batter – completely. He looked up at the heavens instead of the general direction of the plate. Fernando Venezuela copied him and Ebby Calvin ‘Nuke’ LaLoosh in Bull Durham copied Fernando. Tiant was very much the original.

Watch this quick video:[/vc_column_text][vc_video link=”″][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1543005564740{margin-bottom: 0px !important;padding-top: 20px !important;}”]Tiant threw every pitch known to man, all at different speeds and arm angles. No one could figure out whether his pitches were coming or going … and remember, he never looked at the hitter. Batting against Tiant was an adventure, it was unnerving, discombobulating. You may know these feelings …

Colbert Gave Up

Colbert had never seen him never mind hit against him in his career. It is likely that Tiant may have destroyed Colbert’s timing. He certainly destroyed his confidence – and he did so at a particularly vulnerable time. Colbert was facing enough adversity already, and Tiant’s performance simply finished him off, however inadvertently.

Here’s the thing, though, about Luis Tiant: he overcame far more public adversity than Colbert. Tiant endured soul-crushing adversity, more than once before he became a celebrated Boston icon. The son of a legendary left-handed pitcher for the equally legendary New York Cubans of the Negro league, Tiant defected from Castro’s Cuba in 1961. He did not see his parents for 18 years.

He was signed by the Cleveland Indians where he endured racism playing in the minors in Charleston, SC. This was exacerbated by the fact he was still learning English. Despite this, he got called up to the Indians in 1964 where his first start was against the first place (of course) Yankees in Yankee Stadium. He won, a complete game 3-0 shutout, four hits (all singles), 11 strikeouts, beating Whitey Ford.

Talk About a Position of Strength…

By the end of the 1968 season he was a star. He won 21 games, he led the league in ERA at a ridiculously low 1.69, he set a slew of single season records, and he was 28 years old. Tiant was almost exactly the same age Colbert was when he faced him for the first time, and the sky was the limit.

It fell apart, quickly. Like Colbert, when Luis was 30 he was out of baseball. Arm and confidence problems fed on each other and he was a shadow of the player who strolled into Yankee Stadium and shut down the American League Champions. He was released in spring training 1971.

The Atlanta Braves took a flyer on the former 20 game winner and signed him to a minor league contract in May. Tiant pitched well enough for the historically pitching-poor Red Sox to pick him up and assign him to their AAA team. He made it back to the majors with Boston in 1971 . . . and he was awful.

Not Finished, Yet …

Cary, NC Divorce Attorney

Luis today with Larry David

Consigned to the bullpen at the start of 1972, at age 31, he pitched in relief in lost causes early in the season. But, he looked better. An injury here, an injury there, and he was a starter by June. He won 15 games and the American League ERA title. He went on to become that Boston icon and serious Hall of Fame contender.

Colbert and Tiant, Different adversities, different responses.

I think our responses to adversity define us over time. To our children, spouses, families, communities, ourselves.

Your Turn …

Do you need some help coming up with smart ways to deal with the adversity of your divorce?

I am very aware that every one of my clients is or has faced strong adversity. My desire is to help guide anyone going through divorce toward the Luis Tiant response and outcome. If you or anyone you know is ready to talk about divorce options, please give us a call at 919-977-7007 …

It will be confidential, and give you the tools to be smart about how you over come this adversity. Give us a call today.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]