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Pony Express: 'More chances than your first wife'

Remember when the Tereyton cigarette people ran those ads (not allowed anymore) with the slogan "Us Tereyton smokers would rather fight than switch." Along with the slogan was a photo of a smoker with a cigarette and a shiny black eye on his or her face. The ad was almost as glamorous as the Marlboro Man. If you're too young to remember those ads, you don't know what you missed.

But the Tereyton smokers did switch. Many of them stopped smoking. Some went to Marlboro and I suppose a few even puff on the new electronic cigarettes ("e-cigs" -- vapor, but no tobacco smoke).

Switching is not easy. Just last month Earl Weaver, former baseball manager of the Baltimore Orioles for 17 years from 1965 through 1982, died. Weaver was known for his temper tantrums. He kicked dirt on umpires' feet, turned his cap backwards to show contempt, pulled bases from the ground and threw them, and once, in a dispute over the rules of the game, he came out on the field and shredded the rulebook. He was ejected from countless games, but twice was actually kicked out by umpires before the first pitch of the game was thrown. Weaver was considered a practicing Christian, but he had an outfielder, Pat Kelly, who later became an Evangelist. Kelly once asked Weaver why he didn't join players at chapel meetings. "Don't you want to walk with the Lord?" Kelly asked. "I'd rather walk with the bases loaded" the manager replied.

Back to switching. Earl Weaver hated to switch pitchers. But relief pitchers were often necessary, and sometimes, starting pitchers had to be taken out of the rotation. Mike Cuellar was a pitching star who "lost his stuff" in 1976. Weaver took him out of the starting rotation saying, "I gave him more chances than my first wife."

The reason switching is not easy is that most of us believe the old cliché "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." We had a car that we loved. The size, shape and performance were all ideal for our needs. But after major repairs for a transmission once and a head gasket another time, we worried about what would go next. We'd had problems with an earlier car of the same make too. So, reluctantly, we switched. Now we have a car made by an entirely different company that seems like a nothing - special car but there is one thing special about it -- it keeps going mile after mile without major repairs and major worries. We didn't want to switch, but we considered it broke and we fixed it.

It's the same painful process when you're dreading to switch doctors, switch tax preparers, switch banks, switch churches, switch political parties or move to another city. Change isn't easy until it becomes necessary. Even then, it's uncomfortable.

You may be wired with impatience. Many good people are -- they feel the need to keep jumping to new things, so they switch: different jobs, different cars, different homes, different friends, even different spouses. They lead more exciting lives than the rest of us, but they'd never be able to manage a baseball team or coach a football team -- you can't keep switching pitchers and you can't keep switching quarterbacks. You have to give them more chances than your first wife.