Now what?

You are one of the lucky ones. A guy who has, against the odds, accomplished your major aspirations for your career. But you are still young, mid-career at most. So what is your response?

Perhaps you just smile and ride it out. But do you approach the work with the same fire? You’ve reached your destination, gotten farther than you ever thought you would and are making jack like you never imagined. What lights the fire now?

I write this today thinking of Brewers RF Corey Hart . I don’t know the guy so I have no idea if his spring training funk is in any way linked to thoughts like the above. Although my guess is that those reflections mirror his situation even if they aren’t consciously rolling through his mind. Hart is an 11th round draft pick out of a Kentucky high school who survived several position changes while working his way through the minor leagues to became an all star big leaguer who just landed a contract that will pay him nearly $5 million this season (and bring his career earnings close to $10 million ). That’s a long road, one traversed in less than a decade.

Or maybe his reduced production, which, after all, started back in late 2008 and lingered through last season, is the result of other teams figuring him out, knowing that he’s a sucker for the outside slider. Or maybe it was his deteriorating eyesight (which required him to get glasses this year)–perhaps he just hasn’t adjusted to the correction. Could be last year’s numbers were the result of the appendix operation that forced him to miss about a month of the 2009 season.

Or maybe it is a matter of a confluence of factors–all of the above–coming together to create the possibility that he will lose his starting job in RF and become part of a platoon with Jim Edmonds.

Now, imagine for a moment that this isn’t about Corey Hart at all. Imagine that the first few paragraphs above were not about a major league baseball player. Imagine if they were about a regular guy. This is an issue I wonder about for all of us. If we achieve our goals, if we rise to a position in our companies or secure our “dream job,” or find a way to make more money than we ever imagined, what’s left? What drives us? Do we have the energy to set it all aside and make new goals or is it completely understandable human nature to enjoy the achievement and dial back?

Most of us will never get to that point, perhaps because few of us have clear dreams or specific objectives we’re are shooting for. We just want to get through the day and make it to the ballpark on time. But if we personalize the situation, then perhaps we might understand why Corey Hart (or Bill Hall or Geoff Jenkins or any number of other pro players) seem to get so far and then, for some reason, just fall off.

Those musings aside, here’s hoping Hart snaps out of his funk, that those new glasses do the trick, and he can post a .275/.340/.480 line for the Crew this season. I think he is capable of it. But early signs don’t suggest that is in the works. For now, his struggles remain a mystery to fans…and perhaps even to Hart himself.


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