Diabetes In One Trip To The Plate (This Is A Baseball Metaphor)

Diabetes and Baseball

Welcome to the dog days… and the unofficial closing summer ceremony, with Labor Day less than a week away. In this window of time, I usually remember that baseball exists still. To the baseball purist, my following of the sport is somewhat reprehensible, as most of my interest peaks in October (after neglecting the first 5 months of the season). We sit roughly 1 month out from the beginning of playoff baseball, meaning this is where I start to tune-in.

(For background purposes, throughout little league and high school I played the sport, loving it, and this article will cater to the baseball fan. If you have no interest in baseball but are looking for conversation starters with relatives over Labor Day, feel free to stick around.)

Watching games recently exposed yet another diabetes analogy. Turns out, each time we test our blood sugar (or check the CGM), then make a decision in regards to food or insulin, it’s like stepping up to the plate for one at-bat. If you played baseball or softball growing up, then you get the importance of knowing the count (each count, depending on balls and strikes, provides innate advantages to pitcher or hitter). Below are my favorite counts, with instruction on how to take your “diabetes” swing as a hitter:


The hitters count. Only hit your pitch. The hitter has the advantage, he knows the pitcher needs to throw a strike and he usually knows what pitch the pitcher throws to get a strike. This is the perfect blood sugar right before a meal, say a 105. With a 105, you can eat your meal. You can afford to be picky. You have freedom and have better control over future blood sugars, even some buffer space above a rebound low. Oftentimes though, lack of discipline shines through here. Don’t swing at a pitch out of the zone. Don’t dive in on two pieces of cake.

Nerd Stat: National league hitters converted 28% of 2-0 swings into hits during 2014


Another hitters count. In this setting, you have even more room for error. Even if the pitcher throws a strike, and it’s not your strike, you don’t have to swing, ’cause you can always walk! Because you’re this close to a free pass, it pays to be disciplined again. The 3-0 count feels to me like having a blood sugar of 70. With a blood sugar of 7o, if you carb count incorrectly, you’ve got a margin for error, which is usually a good thing right? Unless, you take a wild swing at a bad pitch and end up at 55 an hour later–no one likes being low on a full stomach. Sometimes it’s better to take a pitch (say, drink a small glass of OJ), and then reassess your options.

Nerd Stat: National league hitters converted 28% of 3-0 swings into hits during 2014


This is survival mode. You’re no longer selective, you’re trying to fight off every pitch to stay alive, just to see another pitch. This is a 350 blood sugar. This is not the time for cake, this is the time for gallons of water, and wise insulin use. This is 1 pitch away from a strikeout!

Nerd Stat: National league hitters converted 16% of 0-2 at bats into on-base appearances


White knuckles. The pressure cooker. You’re walking on the edge. No margin for error anymore, but you still own two advantages: 1) He must throw you a strike or you walk 2) You can still get a base hit. Yet, he can still strike you out. This is walking up to dinner with a blood sugar of 220. You have to correct, estimate insulin needs, and watch for the rebound high/low blood sugar. This… is where the best hitters make a living.

Nerd Stat: National league hitters converted 21% of 3-2 at-bats into on-base appearances


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