My son Hunter (10) is on a Little League team. Their team name is pretty clever….The Joker's Wild. Everyone just calls them "The Jokers". They've got some really good coaches who work diligently with the boys, give lots of positive reinforcement and treat the kids well. My wife and I are very pleased with the team!

The coaches finally have the boys so that they are consistantly hitting the ball and hitting it well.

Last night, The Jokers had a game that was only 3 innings long and got called on the time limit (there's a two hour time limit on all games). But every boy got at least one hit and most got two hits. The jokers scored 13 runs in three innings. Not bad for this level.

Unfortunately, The Jokers lost 18 - 13.

But the sad thing was not the losing. It was the cheering. At least 90% of the cheering came from the Jokers side of the field. The Jokers' parents and fans cheered the hit parade and the base stealing parade and some decent fielding.

The Hammers (their opponent last night) actually had very little to cheer about. They only had, at most, a handful of hits, yet they scored 18 runs. Why?

Pitching and catching. In spite of all the work that the coaches have put into developing the boys, they still don't have a kid who can consistantly throw strikes. They walked an unbelievable amount of hitters. The first inning alone took over an hour to complete. And to make matters worse, the catchers couldn't catch the ball. So batters would get walked to first, then steal second and third, and then steal home on past balls — .and all this before the kid currently batting could be walked to first base.

It's no fun losing a ballgame, but there are many meals for a lifetime in the experience of losing if one learns from it. And The Jokers Coaches are pretty good at imparting these meals. But it's really no fun losing a game like this, when the other team has no reason to cheer — because the Hammers didn't win the game, The Jokers lost the game.

I can't even count up the number of times that the Market Mistress has beaten me at the investing game. I can live with being beaten because I have, over the years, beat her more than she's beaten me. But what I can't stand are the times when the Mistress doesn't beat me, but I lose to the Mistress because I made some dumb mistake that, in hindsight, I should have easily seen that I was making, or that I'd made in the past and should have easily noticed that I was about to pull the same stupid trick out of my hat again.

The Mistress knows how to throw strikes and will let me get my share of hits. She even has tendencies that we can all sniff out to figure what the chances are that she's gonna throw a slider, curve, fastball or try to fool us with a change-up. But none of that matters if I can't execute. If I can't play good defense, or capitalize on my opportunities, or do something as simple as throw strikes…..I can't win.

The Mistress gives us all an advantage by having a long term positive drift, but she's so erratic in that drift that she can deny you "drift hits'' for years….sometimes decades….at a time.

So the key to beating her is experience. The key to experience is, initially, to just survive.

The key to surviving is to remember this simple axiom: Losses hurt you more than gains help you. Or to tie it back into the baseball analogy….it doesn't matter how good you are at hitting the ball (The Jokers out hit the Hammers probably 4 to 1), if you can't throw a strike and keep the runners off the base.

So while you are learning, only invest what you can afford to lose. Unlike No-Limit Hold'em, never go "all in"…even if you've got a 99% chance of victory….because if that 1% chance you can lose becomes you're reality, then you are out of the game.

Keep practicing and learning and eventually you will learn how to throw strikes. Eventually, your defensive players backing you up will get good enough to throw the runners out and eventually you'll even get good enough to strike some batters out now and again.

It's all about baby steps, and remembering the lessons you learn allow the way, and being a good sport when you lose…..and if you do lose, make sure you lose in a way that allows the other team to cheer for their victory and be happy because you lost.





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