Tonight I will attend my first baseball game of the season. To
be honest, I am not particularly excited about the game (as a lifelong Yankees
fan, the prospect of watching the Braves and Mets do battle offers minimal
appeal). Nor does the prospect of receiving a bobble head doll of a Braves
player, even one who enters tonight’s game with a robust .173
batting average (B.J. Upton). However, I do relish the opportunity to spend meaningful time
with my children, to watch them delight in the fanfare and parrot the tomahawk
chop. Sure beats a Bronx Cheer.
As I was thinking about tonight’s game, I recalled a conversation from about twenty years ago with a history professor at City College of NY regarding the development of sports in this country (we were reading about the famed pugilist John L. Sullivan). He noted how baseball fundamentally differs from other popular team sports insofar as the ball rests with the defense, and the opposing offense is forced to respond to the defense’s advances. The pitcher, representing the defensive unit, holds the ball and plays catch with the catcher, until the offensive player puts it into play and alters the equilibrium.
The life lesson that I derived from that conversation is that we all serve as batters in the game of life. Sometimes, we are forced to react, to await the pitch that is heaved our way and decide what to do with it. We can let an opportunity pass by with the hope of getting a better one, or we can jump on the first one that we see and make the best of it.
There are many other lessons that we can learn from America’s pastime. I hope to share some more in an upcoming entry.