Wednesday, March 22, 2006

If you build it, they will come.

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball. I groan when my husband tosses out such an obvious cliché in response to my observations, but the point I am pondering remains: I think baseball can be a metaphor for life.

My sister once suggested to me I write about why out of all the high profile sports, baseball is still thought of as "America's pastime." What is it about baseball that inspires such passion and reverence that's somehow different than tailgaters in November or March Madness? Is it simply history, or could it be that more than the gridiron's hundred-yard march, baseball more accurately reflects man's struggle for achievement.

The game itself sets up a classic match-up of foes. Sometimes you're on offense, other times defense. And if you're the pitcher, you have to wield both roles simultaneously, much like any other commander—and aren't we all just the master of our fate? Yet he has to surrender a certain amount of control to the efforts of his teammates. They have to field the ball and keep the other team from scoring. They have to come up with the hits so your team has enough runs to win the game. Like Emerson said, no man is an island, and in life, one gets through it alone.

Baseball has drama. While this could be said for any sport we fawn over, baseball is more like watching a chess game in terms of strategy. Think about, late in the game, you're behind, deciding on a pitching change, knowing if you put in your lefty, they can pull their slugger off the bench to pinch hit. Do you walk the next batter in hopes of turning the double play and getting out of the inning? You have to think plays ahead.

It's a universal sport. You don't have to be tall. You don't have to be built to stop a truck. You don't need to know how to skate, just how to run. Throw, hit, catch; kids have been doing it for decades, using anything that can be found to represent a bat and a ball. We amend the rules so we can play with just 2, 3, or 4 people.

And that's really the crux. It's fun. It's a game. Sure, it's a game now played by overgrown kids getting paid way too much money and ticket prices are out of control, but that's not baseball, that's MLB. Baseball is watching ten year-olds learn the game; seeing the joy on their faces when they make that ice cream cone catch at short, or when they drive in an RBI with a base hit or get away with a stolen base.

Littlest One starts instructional league this spring. I can't wait!

As Bee said, it's in the air. Baseball.

Play Ball!


Nancy Dancehall said...

(Standing ovation) Yes!

Hold on, let me go get a friend...

adl clowncar said...

Well put. As someone once said (and I don't know who): Football is a one-night stand. Baseball is a romance.

MyUtopia said...

I love baseball. Neat analysis.

TrappedInColorado said...

Baseball... dying sport... at least MLB is... too many teams not enough quality players. too slow.. steroids.. .. too many other things to do .. Little league membership falls every year... towns are closing baseball fields at a record pace.. too many other things for kids to do instead of stand out in right field and do nothing on a hot afternoon.. skateboarding, bmxing, inline skating, soccer.. baseball as we know it today will cease to exist in 10 yrs... there will be pitching clocks (30 seconds probably)... limits on number of foul balls in an at bat.... but those will only delay the inevitable. The world is changing and it simply does not fit.

Anonymous said...

Ouch Trappedincolorado. You obviously don't get it. Go to a major league baseball game and smell the popcorn, htdogs and beer and you just might. Better yet, walk up the alley way to the stands with a child seeing its first baseball game and then you just might see the light. American colleges are pumping out draft pick after draft pick. I know you have to suffer with the Rockies and suffer through home run after home run in that ball park of yours, but baseball will always be baseball. You sound absolutely UN-American.

Well put G, my favorite post yet.


Citysocialite said...

trappedincolorado, what people think of you is very much your business, if it isn't you wouldn't post to blogs now would you?

TrappedInColorado said...

Anonymous, true true. Un-American? It is sooo American to express one's views. I do enjoy the ballpark on a gorgeous Colorado summer evening. Those draft picks would not make it past AA ball 30 yrs ago.

Citysocialite.. I do not post to blogs for peoples' approval. Just throwing out some thoughts, ideas, humor.

I LOVE this interaction!


Jobee said...

Professional sports suck - just look at what the Yankees are doing with the stadium (see my blog)? All crap so franchises can make more money
(this coming from a holder of Cyclones season tix - but I just go for the hot dogs and Cracker Jacks)

mykl jon said...

Holy mother of hockey! I love sports! I hate sports! It's dying! It will never die!
Jeebus Cripes! Nice post Giovanna! I thought it was well thought out, well written, warm, emotional and fun!
I hope your little short stop grabs onto the game and brings it on home!!
my word verification..."tripleplay"
just kidding

Joe said...

Great post. I love watching kids play baseball. Can't wait to hear about Littlest One's adventures.

coyoteincentralpark said...

Who knew people would get so stirred up over baseball. You should make it a sports blog, just imagine how many hits you would get.

I go for the sausage and peppers!

"are you with me lee?"

Giovanna said...

Indeed. :) It just proves the point, baseball inspires passion.

Bee said...

Gooooo A's! I already got my Oakland and SF calendar to plan my nights and weekends. My Zito shirt has been pulled out from storage and is ready to party. I can't wait. I love everything about the game. The older men with the huge earphones listening to the radio while taking the stats, the little kids running down the stairs with their peanuts and hot dogs, buying way over-priced beer, booing the visiting team everytime they make a good play, chanting "Lets go Oakland!", loosing your voice at the end of the night cuz you cheered your team. . .I love it all.

Thanks G!

LazyLazyMe said...

I'm English, living in England and yet love baseball.

I was taken to my first ball game at the age of 6 in 1986 (Seattle Kingdome). I've loved it ever since. I even went on a 10 day 5 city tour of the US just to watch baseball.

To watch the live games on a Sunday I have to stay up from 1am to 4am, then go to work.

All this being said, have any of you seen cricket? Now, there's a game...

Anonymous said...

Baseball is still a major sport that I can afford to take my Family to.

I totally agree with the food at a game. Ya gotta eat...and eat and eat. The more JUNK the better.


Giovanna said...

Lazy, that's cool. I have a friend, (an internet friend) who toured baseball parks and we met for beers when she came to Fenway.

I have never seen a cricket match. Now is that the sport that England was suddenly a contended for the championship last summer and everyone was all into the sport again?

LazyLazyMe said...

Toots, yep. Cricket's a strange one because each series of matches (Tests) is considered an event in itself. No real league or anything.

England v Australia is called The Ashes. It is held every 2 years and it's the one we got all excited about (because we won).

I love many types of sport but that series was one of the best events I've ever seen.

I've only been to Fenway once, when I was 8. The Mariners are my one true love though.

Anonymous said...

Lazy, you're saying that the Mariners are your one true love strikes a chord with me. I think we all stay loyal to our "first". Except for G, who has turned her back on the NY teams, the traitor. Me, I've been living with one foot in Red Sox territory for the past 4 years. Even though I've been drawn into temporarily rooting for them to win the pennant (mostly out of sympathy for an underdog), my heart belongs to the Yankees & always will!
-- magnoliajem