Jarred Kelenic: Chasing Perfection

Jarred Kelenic won't stop working.

In the gym, he works.

In the cage, he works.

On his hair, he works.

On being a better teammate, he works.

And he does all this with one objective in mind; the one thing that, for him, for anyone, is simply not achievable. Perfection.

"Being a perfection has gotten me where I am today," he said of his arrival to Major League Baseball. "That's who I was born to be. It's in my genes. But I think there's a skill I'm trying to learn, that I'm starting to learn, of toning it down a little bit and understanding when it becomes unhealthy."

Well, that's good. Because perfectionists and baseball don't mix. It is a game of constant failure. The best hitters in the sport fail to reach base 60% of the time. It's a game that you have to forget about today's 0-for-4, a game played almost every day for 180 days and nearly every one of those days the hitter wakes up in the morning either on a streak or in a slump. It's a game of constant adjustment. It's a game played at such a high level that the opposing pitcher may do nothing else to you for nine innings than attack your one weakness.

Jarred Kelenic is wound tight as a ballplayer. He curses at his bat after strikeouts. He argues with umpires far more than is recommended for a player of his age and experience. He seems mystified by his failures. He loathes letting his teammates down and it shows with every grimace, every head shake, and every drop of his chiseled chin. This game of baseball can and will chew you up and spit you out, and Jarred Kelenic has no intention of being its gum. And so he works, and he strives, and he places undue pressure on himself to be great now. And he's even working hard to alleviate that. But it won't come easy. Not for an admitted perfectionist.

I used to say of Manny Ramirez that he was one of the great hitters of our time because of three things. (1) He's talented. (2) He works hard at his craft. And (3) He doesn't give a sh*t if he comes through that night, which probably is what allowed him to come through in the clutch as often as he did.

No one wants Jarred Kelenic not to care, but perhaps it would benefit him to not care as much. Perhaps he could skip leg day once this calendar year, or take up stamp collecting or some other mind-numbing hobby that can take his mind away from baseball. Because the only thing that's going to get in Jarred Kelenic's way of achieving his lofty goals is Jarred Kelenic. 

I like Jarred Kelenic. I root for him. I root like mad for him. But the best drivers in the world don't win races by never letting their foot off the gas. Vince Lombardi pursued perfection for his Packers knowing full well they'd never achieve it. I'm not sure Jarred doesn't think he will, and that sounds like a problem. 

"Gentlemen, we will chase perfection, and we will chase it relentlessly, knowing all the while we can never attain it. But along the way, we shall catch excellence," Lombardi preached.

Keep working, kid. Go ahead and stay on the Lombardi path, if that's what works for you. But be okay when the road beats the driver. Cuz it's going to happen in this game of baseball. Perfection simply can not be achieved. But you can catch excellence.

Hear the entire Jarred Kelenic interview HERE!

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