That bit of wisdom in the title was imparted to me by Pete Rose, the all-time hits leader in major league history. He would know about this, because he also played in more winning ballgames than any other baseball player. And since baseball games have been played for well over a century, that means a lot.
Over the course of three days in April of 2002, I played five baseball games at a fantasy baseball camp in Florida. Considering that I hadn’t done that since I was in grade school, I think it went pretty well, too. The highlight for me was a fleeting moment that happened during one of the games.
I had come up to bat with a runner on second base and nobody out. I wanted to get a hit somewhere and drive the run home, but I hit a slow ground ball to second base instead. The second baseman fielded it, made a throw to first base, and I was retired.
As I ran back to the bench, dejected that I didn’t achieve my goal, I got a fist bump and a “nice job” from Pete Rose, who happened to be observing the game. It didn’t compute right away, but as I went and sat down, I figured out the reason.
Pete Rose understood, in a way that I did not, that I had still helped my team out. By grounding out to second, the runner on base was able to take third base with less than two outs. I don’t remember whether the runner scored or not, but the point had been made: advancing a runner leads to runs, which leads to victories and–as I have learned–tastier burgers as well.