I exercised my freedom to not apply myself during grade school, and I am much better off for it. Unlike some of my classmates, I never came to conflate my intellectual prowess with a sense of moral superiority. My ability to recognize and consider the truth or falsity of fundamental premises remained intact, instead of putting my intelligence at the service of the dominant paradigm. I learned to walk away from prestige and to choose integrity.
And by the way, I am someone who has known the joy of hitting a baseball. There is certainly something to be said for a career that is fundamentally based on the joy of being alive. How often do you meet people who do not seem to have experienced that, except perhaps in some long forgotten childhood?