The game stood at 5-8 going into the final inning with Head Royce in the lead and their relief pitcher on the mound. Piedmont sat in the middle of its batting order and we needed three runs to tie (four to win) against what was clearly a very talented team.
"Let's go Piedmont!" the hometown fans screamed.
"Defense!" the Head Royce parents responded.
This was the moment . . .
Our four and five batters were walked, followed by a rare fielding error by their second baseman that resulted in a run for Piedmont and left runners at second and third base. Suddenly, things had changed in our favor (that's the beauty of baseball) and the tying runs were on base with the winning run up at bat.
"Strike one, Strike two, Strike three!"
That's okay, we only had one out with bases load. Our boys were fully capable of pulling out the win. We'd seen them do it before. In fact, we'd just come off a weekend of resounding victories over Stevenson in Monterey so momentum was on our side. The next player approached and was intentionally walked to set up the double play. Now we had a game. We whistled, we stomped, we cheered.
This is baseball at its most nail-biting glory. A G O N Y!
"Strike one, strike two, ball one, strike three . . ." two down, one chance remaining.
Now at the top of its batting order, Piedmont had one last opportunity to keep the game alive. The parents collectively held their breaths on both teams as the next batter walked to the plate to take his turn at bat (no pressure). This was do or die.
With two strikes and two balls, the batter swung and popped the ball short to right field. Out number three and the game was suddenly over leaving three men on base (sigh). The boys had put up a good fight, but had been beaten. It's a crushing blow to come so close only to lose, but they'll undoubtedly live to fight another day.
Listening to Coach Olsen after the game, he praised the boys for playing all 21 outs to the end, giving it their all, and working diligently on the field, but reminded them to tighten up their play and avoid costly errors. "If we can do that, next time the game will break our way, instead of theirs." (I love that kind of cool, collected response in a coach.) It's undeniable that losing hurts, but when it becomes a teaching moment, there's at least a silver lining. (The boys won't "get" that until they have kids of their own, I suspect.)
In many respects Coach Olsen's words are not dissimilar to the pep talk I give my own clients when they are struggling with a home purchase. For many Buyers, there's a learning curve that's unavoidable as they get up to bat and strike out - often more times than once, and in a few rare cases, with some regularity. Ouch, that's no fun. (I hear you.)
Sometimes a loss is unavoidable - a stronger buyer beats you out in an ALL CASH play and comes in MUCH higher. (Let's wish them well and move on.)
Sometimes it's indecision. You didn't want the house enough to compete at the highest level for it. That's okay; let's find you the home that makes you swing for the fences. This market doesn't allow for the short pop-up or lukewarm response. Truly, the victory will go to the player who buys emotionally and not pragmatically. You gotta really WANT it.
Sometimes, it's a lack of preparation. In a competitive marketplace such as this one, we're going to need ALL of our ducks lined up in a row in order to beat out the other players who come up to bat. This means, a letter from your lender qualifying you for the loan and verifying your closing assets, pre-inspections on the property when allowed, and the removal of nearly every contingency in the contract when possible. (DON'T do this if you haven't gathered the appropriate information beforehand and aren't comfortable with the risks involved.)
Sometimes it's an error on the Agent's part. Given two strong offers, I am going to encourage the Seller to select the one that's left no stone unturned. The agent with the cleanest presentation signals (to me at least) that the transaction to follow is likely to run more smoothly.
Hey, batter, batter . . . it's not just about getting on first, but getting to home base that matters. If the deal start out rocky, it's probably not going to improve as we progress, and if there's a hitch in the escrow or lending process, it may be game over. That's definitely a scenario we want to avoid. Homes that fall out of escrow can become quickly tainted, thus agents with good batting records are worth their weight in gold.
Finally, I love what my husband often reminds me about the game of baseball: "the ball is round, the bat is round, but you've got to hit it square." (I don't think he said it first, but it certainly applies.)
That sentiment applies to the world of Real Estate as well. Whether in a Buyers' or a Sellers' market, it's critical to prepare, to make adjustments as you go, to learn the game, to play hard, to avoid mistakes, and to give it your heart.
Hey folks, that's not only baseball or Real Estate in a nutshell; it's life. I find that when we set our intentions and do our best, we will win more often than not, BUT even when we are really great at the game, we still won't win the battle every time. That's okay, we'll tighten up, learn from our mistakes, and live to play another day. "Batter up!"
How can I help you?
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 500 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.