Almost Everything, As A Matter Of Fact
An Unlikely Pairing
On a recent Summer night, as I was enjoying a home game of our local minor league baseball team, I had an epiphany at the bottom of the fifth inning.
I had run into a friend at the game and she said, “I love baseball, but sometimes it seems so slow.” Others have said the same, of course, but I always felt that was not correct. Why did I not feel as they do? As I pondered that question, fortified by my cracker jacks, I realized why I did not see a slow game.
Seeing With Different Vision
I see baseball differently because to me, the game is much like a Japanese tea ceremony. I am the first to admit I am no expert on that Japanese custom, but I know enough to recognize the similarities.
Think about it. The Japanese tea ceremony is a bastion of tradition and ritual. Every gesture, every choice, every item has meaning. There are countless things going on beyond what is happening at any given moment besides with the tea pot or a cup. The whole thing is a mix of individual actions and a collective whole.
Baseball fans, does any of that sound familiar? Of course it does. What is going on between the pitcher and the batter is only the first level of the game. What are the base coaches doing? What is happening with relief pitchers warming up (or not)? How is the communication between the pitcher and the catcher?
How is the defense positioning itself in anticipation of what is to happen next? What are the fans saying and reflecting? Which players are making moves to the big leagues and which ones know they have already peaked (and many are fine with that – they still played professional ball, every kid’s dream)? What does the atmosphere say about the relationship between the town, the owners and the players?
And on it goes, for countless layers. I am not a big sports fan, but I know enough to say with modest confidence that no other sport has this kind of depth and complexity. The pace of the game can be slow, but that allows one the time to study and to reflect on what is unfolding all around the ball park.
It is fascinating stuff, a delightful mix of athletics, human drama, and unintended consequences. And some of the most interesting data points imaginable. No game uses statistics like baseball.
Play ball! Or Prepare The Tea
If you have not been to a ball game for a while, treat yourself. Get your head into the experience and look around. What do you see now? Of course, you could do the same with a tea ceremony, too.
Maybe I will combine the two. At my next game perhaps I will forego a cold beer for a hot cup of tea. On second thought, scratch that idea.
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