To remain sane, remain the same

Editor's Note: Oakland A's rookie Huston Street is writing a regular diary for ESPN.com throughout the 2005 season. The 21-year-old former University of Texas standout was recently named the A's closer and was the first player from the 2004 draft to play in the major leagues.

Baseball is an ironic game. Its greatest attributes are sometimes what make the game unbearable.

A player on a hot streak can't wait to get to the yard, while his teammate who is looking for his swing might dread his morning wake-up call. A hard shot at the third baseman gets turned for a double play, while a bloop single wins a World Series.

For the nonfan, the game is slow and unexciting, yet the object of consequence (a baseball) gets thrown the hardest, hit the farthest and sometimes is "accidentally" thrown at an opposing player.

In a game where control and execution are deemed necessary, it seems that so often the outcome is decided by something that isn't within a player's realm of control. These ironies within the game can make us swear by it or swear on it within the same breath.

I was once asked what I enjoyed most about baseball. I quickly answered, "Every day." I can't think of a better way to spend an afternoon than chasing baseballs around a big field of bright green, perfectly cut grass. It is the feeling of a well-executed slider, and watching the ball fall just below the bat. No matter what happened yesterday or is happening today, I know tomorrow when I wake up I'll have a new opportunity to play.

Shortly after the first question, I was asked what I least enjoyed about baseball. I thought for a moment and then replied, "Every day." The grass isn't so green when you're 0-for-your-last-25. I can't explain how frustrating it is when I throw my best slider and watch it get crushed into the gap, and two runners high-five after crossing home plate. The worst part of it is that tomorrow when I wake up I will have to do it all over again.

How can the same response answer and give meaning to two exactly opposite questions?

This game is simply about timing and perspective. A home run in the first inning that provides the go-ahead runs doesn't display the heroics of a ninth-inning blast that delivers the same outcome. Similarly, a booted ball followed by a double play doesn't draw even close to the condemnation of a booted ball followed by a homer.

During my short two months in the majors, I've been told numerous times (and been forced to realize myself) that the only way to remain sane is to remain the same.

Ups and downs will happen. A hard-hit ball needs to be thought of as a hard-hit ball regardless of the outcome. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap because big-league hitters hit big-league pitches.

Umpires aren't trying to screw up the call. Baseball will continue to anoint kings and destroy their kingdoms within the same series. Sometimes it is hard to view those involved with the game as human, but ask any one of them, and they will reassure you that they are.

The one game that truly illustrates the ironies found in baseball is golf. It's a roller coaster of emotion. When contained, you shoot under par with three bogies. At other times, you find yourself wild and in the middle of an 18th hole "Tin Cup" moment. Both will make you scream.

In golf, a two-foot putt counts just as much as a 350-yard drive. I guess it only seems natural that baseball players would have such a strong affection for golf.

Huston Street is a relief pitcher for the Oakland Athletics. He is playing in his first season in the major leagues.