baseball as conversation

Maybe I’m just feeling giddy from the Red Sox’ weekend sweep of the Yankees, so please forgive me if I go “off-topic” for a bit and talk about one of my favorite subjects. Billions of words have been written about the beautiful game of baseball, so I won’t bore you with too many more. But I just want to mention an idea I heard once that besides being a perfectly designed sport, baseball is really just one long, ever-flowing conversation. If you’ve ever played little league, you know about the incessant chatter that happens on the field. I remember especially my coach demanding that we urge on our pitcher by saying “C’mon, (fill in name here)!” over and over, even from the outfield. You could hear the chorus of the players’ voices as you crouched at your position or sat in the bleachers. Even the signs were a language all their own. My wife and I were watching a game this weekend when the third base coach from the Red Sox furiously started touching parts of his body. To an outsider, it must have looked like this man was having some sort of fit. My wife asked what this guy’s problem was. I told her he was putting on the hit-and-run, obviously. I may only be able to speak about this from a male point of view, but I think one of the reasons we love baseball so much is that it lets us take part in a conversation that was started over one hundred years ago, and will continue, a baseball fan hopes, infinitely into the future. You can hear it in the friendly exchanges of opposing players on the base paths, or in the vicious curses when a pitcher gives up a dinger. It is a conversation between coaches and players, players and fans, fathers and sons, even mothers and daughters. I’m sure Ken Burns can speak to this point more eloquently than I can, but baseball really is a national treasure, and is so interwoven into the fabric of our country, that to remove it would be like pulling on a loose string until the sweater it is attached to unravels. When you watch a game, it looks like not much is happening. But below the surface, the talk, talk, talk, (and the thinking, thinking, thinking) is happening all the time. Kind of like our minds. The Buddha taught that all is ceaseless change, that nothing permanent exists. The purpose of our life, then, is learning to accept change as the only immutable universal law. We are always changing, right down to the cellular level, right at this moment. The words spoken on the diamond at Fenway last night are gone into the ether, but the conversation continues. Right now, we are privy to these communications, and we try to cherish them while we can. But even after we are gone, the conversation will go on. Maybe it’s our words that make us immortal.

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One comment

  1. Diane

    Baseball is the perfect game. The only game in which the defense has the ball. both a team game and at least 54 individual battles within the game. The people playing look like “us”; they can be overweight(david wells) or short (pedroia)and still play. This nike commercial is touching and is a visual for your comments. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2JbRYrmf74

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