I love baseball. I have loved baseball since I was a boy. One of the great joys of my life was managing my son Chris’ little league teams. I learned much and delighted in the fun of teaching this great game to Chris and his team mates. I return to baseball, repeatedly, as a way of making sense out of life. Baseball is life.
I follow my team, the Red Sox, all season, every pitch, every play. I prefer listening to the games on my XM/ Sirius radio, delighting in the wins, mourning the losses. The BoSox did not end up well this year, but with the familiar rally cry “Wait until next year”, we headed into playoffs and the World Series. With the conclusion of the Fall Classic last night we enter that long, dark, cold, miserable period of time until pitchers and catchers report for spring training, 109 excruciating days from now. Opening day (April 4, 2016 for most teams) is an unfathomable 21 weeks, 6 days, 10 hours, 9 minutes away (but who’s counting?), until we can hear again those magical words, “Play Ball” and time will once again begin. But the lessons of life mirroring baseball and vice versa are with us every day, everywhere.
“It breaks your heart. It’s designed to break your heart,” wrote A. Bartlett Giamatti, the Yale Dante scholar turned baseball commissioner, a true lover of the game. Life? Baseball? Both? Everyday when we awake we are going to win. Whatever our endeavor, we are going to accomplish our task. Win. We spend the next 12 hours coming to bat. Striking out. Taking the field to defend our position. Back up to the plate to take more whacks at life’s expected and unexpected pitches.
More often than not we miss the pitch. Sometimes we get a hit, and on even fewer occasions we knock it out of the park. A hit, a double, maybe even a dinger. What a wonderful feeling of exhilaration. Success? Yes, if you hit the dinger. Otherwise you are standing on one of those bases that then seem so far from home plate. But success is crossing home. Yeah, but you are safe as long as you are on one of those bases.
Life is pretty safe there no matter what the other players do. And yet, real success is touching all the bases. You have to move away from that safe place and head for “home” if you are ever going to reach your goal. Getting to first was pretty good, but you then realize that you can’t get to second if your foot’s on first.
Are you going to wait for your teammate to push you along or do you take that chance of advancing on your own? What are the consequences if you don’t make it? Do we leave a learned profession that has sustained us for 40 years? Do we start an alpaca ranch? Make practical and utilitarian garments from the alpaca fleece (about which you are learning as you go)? Run a business???? Yikes!!!.
At the end of the day’s game you head for the “clubhouse.” Talk with those who matter about the plays of the day and then try to get your head out of the game for at least a few hours. Rejuvenate your body and soul. Get up and do it all over again, believing that no matter what happened yesterday, today you are going to win. See what I mean? Baseball. Life. ““Play Ball.”
‘Til next week…….. Lee