Stay in the Game

Cramer says this market is an existence contest. And if it doesn't wear you down or get you down, you win.
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We were in our third raid of the networkers yesterday, predicated upon rumors that Nortel (NT) might not smash the top line. I had been trying to get my arms around the Elan (ELN) nightmare. Jeff had been searching for any Lucent (LU) specifics he could find. In the meantime, Lycos (LCOS) had suddenly dropped 3 points, even as it looked like the Net had traction.

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Message Boards. "Who's on this Lycos?" I asked Jeff. He said he was on it. I told him I was too jammed trying to figure out if this break in

Busch

(BUD) - Get Report

meant buy. He, on the other hand, was trying to get his arms around why

Nokia

(NOK) - Get Report

stopped going up. We had a couple of conference calls on hold, blinking, and I was trying to assess whether the

Dow Jones

(DJ)

news had enough staying power to counteract the negative effects of a national retail slowdown on

Home Depot

(HD) - Get Report

. All the while, the bonds kept sinking.

Next thing I knew, I threw my hands up. In our more formidable portions of our lives, Jeff and I were both athletes. He played football, I played soccer and ran track. We often lapse into sports analogies, and if we have any energy left after a day on this job, we try to devote it to family and sports watching.

"It's a ^$*& marathon," I said, visibly exhausted from trying to balance retail with pharmaceuticals and banks, and Jeff drilled down on telco-tech, semi-tech and hardware. "It's an existence contest. And if the market doesn't wear you down or get you down, you win."

Jeff nodded. "You gotta stay in the game."

That's what people don't get. The market as it is currently configured is simply trying to wear you down. It taunts you with a good advance/decline and fewer

Meisler

negatives. It seduces you with short squeezes like Lucent. It bodyslams you with quarters like

eBay

(EBAY) - Get Report

that get written up positively in the

Journal

even as it gets hammered in the aftermarket.

The trick is to not let it get to you. Dust yourself off. Drink some Gatorade. Get back in. Stay optimistic. Stay clear-headed. And do not let the sirens of gloom or the banshees of Pangloss fool you into doing the wrong thing.

A new day begins.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long Lucent, Lycos and Nokia. His fund often buys and sells securities that are the subject of his columns, both before and after the columns are published, and the positions that his fund takes may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column at

jjcletters@thestreet.com.