We’ve Never Needed Baseball More Than We Do Now
Take a minute and listen. What do you hear?
An office copier?
A baby crying?
A dog barking?
The rumble of the dryer?
I hear the incessant chirping of the mockingbird, as mid-February in Nashville has delivered a foretaste of spring.
Amidst the chaotic concert of mockingbird songs I see a blue jay and a cardinal cohabiting a Maple tree in our back yard, and I am reminded:
Today, most Americans find their pastime to be a bore. There is no choreographed violence; there are no last second shots; there are no half-naked cheerleaders. Unlike football or basketball — those comparatively unsophisticated games — the game of baseball is not “exciting.”
Since when did a sport need to be exciting all the time?
Baseball is a simple, unforgiving game.
Succeeding three times out of 10 earns a Dodger a home in Beverly Hills. Succeeding only two times out of 10 earns a Dodger a one-way ticket to Rancho Cucamonga.
Each game has a sort of rhythm to it.
The pitcher sulks out to the mound, subconsciously stepping over the white chalk baseline so as not to sin against the conscience of his superstitious shortstop. He does a dance with that old slab of rubber sitting atop the mound of dirt, and cracks his arm like a whip.
The game begins.
The cowhide-clad ball departs the palm of the pitcher unsure of its fate. Will it spin like a top or hurtle like a bullet? Will it smack into the dusty leather of a catchers mitt or be re-directed by the tarred pine of a Louisville Slugger en route to a splash landing in an expensive Budweiser bath courtesy of Rick in section 203?
The game of baseball is not possessed by the demon called “Time.” Each game of baseball is as timeless as the sport itself. Baseball does not accommodate those of us who are in a hurry. Baseball possesses a certain kind of wisdom that is incompatible with a culture defined by a fear of missing out.
On a baseball field, mortal enemies muster the courage to coexist amidst an atmosphere fierce competition.We need to slow down and stop fighting. Our interconnectedness has led us to believe that the world’s end is near and that those who oppose us pose an existential threat to us.
We have never needed baseball more than we do now.
Baseball requires us to slow down and see what it looks like to compete with civility. A Cubs fan and a Cardinals fan can share a sweaty summer Sunday in the bleachers of Wrigley field over a couple of Old Styles, but somehow Conservatives and Liberals have become unable to share a dinner table without accusing each other of unforgivable sins.
Between our busyness and our unwillingness to coexist with our rivals, baseball has a lot to teach us about the value of slowing down and chilling out.
Take a Sunday afternoon this spring to turn off Twitter, open your windows, pour a glass of your favorite ball game beverage, and pretend email hasn’t been invented yet.
Just slow down.
The world doesn’t need you, and your mortal enemy is not going to destroy life as you know it while you take a moment to enjoy the unpredictable fate of the old, cowhide-clad ball.
Cardinals and blue jays cohabit the Maple tree in my back yard and share a diamond on a muggy Monday night in the middle of June, all without killing each other.
Maybe we ought to sit back and learn for a few innings.
Let’s put excitement aside and enjoy the marvel of timeless, civil competition.