Field of Dreams

“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again.”

I used to love baseball. And maybe for one or two glorious years in little league, I was good at baseball. But Babe Ruth league came, and the pitchers got better, and I didn’t. I’d have 2, maybe 3 games at the start that I’d go 2 for 3, or 3 for 4, but then I’d start a game full of piss and vinegar, and come up to bat expecting to hit my customary line drive up the middle or between first and second and I’d strike out.

And the season would go downhill from there, I’d never get the groove back.

Baseball is a strange game. It’s a game where the simplest measure of success for hitters is itself an abysmal failure, its superstars git a hit somewhere around 3 times out of 10. 30% success at the plate (I know it’s not quite that simple, but humor me) but perfection in the field, dead aim in the arm, and sprinter’s speed 90 feet at a time.

In a sense, it was good preparation and a good metaphor for a career in computing.

I’m one of those odd hybrids, a developer that’s a systems administrator, or maybe a systems administrator that’s a developer, I don’t know. I’m pretty good at what I do, which of course means I guess I’m not at the top of the game for either. While many of my colleagues in the field seem to get to focus on one thing or another, I’m the journeyman utility player, trying to keep track of a thousand things at once, and experiencing a continual string of successive failures, while maintaining perfection (or illusion thereof) of error-free service in the field.

Just this week — here’s just a snapshot, what I happen to remember while writing this:

And that’s probably a fourth of it this week. All the while, I am getting crap because I am not open and receptive to everybody’s “great ideas” that I already worked through and spec’d last year, and wanted very much to do, but there’s no time to do it, because all of my team is working through new comps, or is out sick or is responding to support email for stuff we did 6 months ago.

I asked for this. I put myself in this postion. Absorbing everything I could about as many areas in my field as possible, finding myself feeling the person that has to step up to everything from systems to code to support to whatever it takes to make it work, jack of all trades, and master of none.

Some days though, you just want the constant failures to stop . To have the opportunity, for just once, to dig in, spend the time, and become a master at just… one… thing. To implement just one of the 100 ideas you’ve had before next year, when 6 months from now, somebody uses your app for the first time and complains about it not having that idea you know it needs. To make the time to do one thing (or a few things) really, really well, and the way you know it should be done.

Some days, I’d just like that walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth, and not go 0 for 4 in the second game of the doubleheader.

But, I guess it’s as Yogi Berra said, “If the world was perfect, it wouldn’t be.”