Being a lifelong Baseball fan I confess a bias toward it rather than other sports. It’s pace, weather, history and mere presence permeates my 45 years. It reminds me of spring and the shedding of the dark cold of winter. Opening day, when all teams are equal and everything is possible, Baseball and life looks promising, full of hope and excitement for what is to come.
In the heat of the summer it’s slow pace is relaxing and comforting. It drops my blood preasure. I love to have it on the Radio or TV even when I’m doing something else. Days at the park watching, eating dogs, and chatting with whomever I’m there with is a childlike comfort like the smell of warm tar on the playground.
Slow. The Game is a building crescendo across 3 or 4 hours. Everyone takes their time, yet everything that happens, happens quickly. Moments of glory dashed by disaster and then back again. The season is a slow graceful Marathon played out across the backdrop of a too short summer. It seems to last forever but is over before you know it.
In Baseball you always lose. The batter makes an out 3/4 of the time. The best of teams loose half their games. Every team but one looses by the end of the year. Its a constant reminder that life isn’t fair and things rarely work out the way you want them too. Yet somehow it doesn’t really matter. Disappointment is part of the fabric of it.
Baseball taught me that its the moment that matters. It’s the history that gives weight to the moment you’re in. You see the players, know their history. You see the game and know it’s history. Everything gets rich played out against 100 years of what has come before. Yet at that game at that moment it’s what’s happening now that’s important. At that moment anything is possible. Anyone can come up the winner. The “game of inches” can turn on one of the 200 pitches in the game.
Runner on 3rd, bottom of the 9th, pitching team up by one run. Full count. One pitch and a home run could win the game for the Home team. One pitch and a strikeout means the Visitors go home a winner. It took 4 hours to get there and that one moment makes all the difference.
Even though you lose, it’s still beautiful and its still fun. It taught me that even though there is somebody better and you’ll not be as good as you want this year, it’s still worth doing. It’s the doing that matters. When my Favorite teams won it all, the Reds in ’75, ’76, ’90. The Indians coming close in ’95 and ’97, the victory was fun but quick and bittersweet. The result is fleeting and transient.
Winning is not the substance of Baseball. Even if you win it all this year come springtime it’s back to the loosing again. Soon the winning is a memory and you are settled back into the familiar pace of the slow loosing marathon that comes to a close with the onset of the cold and the ice and snow and the enveloping malise of Winter.
It is then we are left only with the perrenial hope that next year, come spring, everything is even again and all things are possible.