Friday, May 02, 2008

Bottom of the ninth....

Two Outs. Bases loaded.

Full count.

As the wind pushes about the clouds on the one of the last days of summer, another season comes to an end. You’ve stared many of these moments in the face throughout your years at bat. But this one just has a different feeling to it.

It’s that defining moment in a person’s life, their career, their sense of being that they know may be their last. You’re batting against time; you’re batting against the future, against age, against ending. You’re hoping for one more chance to see something that you have created, clear the fences. In your final strike, in your last at bat… What will you make of yours?

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m pretty sure God created baseball, and all other sports for that matter as a distraction from the real world. It was mankind that made it the metaphor for our existence. We’ve written stories, made movies, built legends out of mere mortals that simply were better at something than the rest of us. But of all sports, baseball seems to be the one that best mirrors life.. I mean, why else would the make so many great movies about it? Aside from Hoosiers, and The Longest Yard… how many movies can you really think of that have football or basketball as a metaphorical subplot?... Eh, I guess boxing works too… but only if your Sylvester Stallone and are pretty gifted at playing slightly retarded (Except for the third movie, where he could have possibly solved a Rubik's cube, or at least tied his shoe all by himself).

As far as metaphors go, you really couldn’t get more accurate. The season is long. You fail more times than you succeed. There are tough decisions to make. And of course the man in blue is always screwin' you in some fashion or another.

Some would argue that baseball is simply just a way to pass time, and that its metaphor lies in the sports longevity. As the season wears on, the hits become less memorable, the errors seem less embarrassing.. the endless road games and home stands blend seamlessly into this giant arc. So in a game of statistics, numbers, and steroids, how do some just earn a living, while the rest become legends?

For years I joked about dumb jocks, and their lack of foresight when is came to making decisions. I can think of better ways to spend the governments money than chasing after athletes who make bad decisions, but then again… what do you expect when the leader of the greater free world so happened to run a franchise better than he did a country?.. And some may even argue that point. Regardless of preconceived notions, hitting a pitched ball demands such unclouded vision, immediate judgment, and precise coordination that one can hit well only in a state of naked awareness, of wakefulness without a single thought. It’s just automatic. It’s natural. Some things just come easier to others. While some, it’s a practiced skill.

We all have certain purposes in life, and roles we play in the lives of others. With corporate America running things these days, there’s no allegiance. No loyalty. It’s simply, “how can I get ahead of the Yankees?...” Such is life, where people will trade life long companions, and future icons at the chance of getting that hot young prospect. The one that will fill the seats, the one that will make the other teams take notice. Because that is what it’s all about right?... But guess what?.. You can have the biggest pay roll, the greatest bunch of individual athletes in the world, but if they can’t put aside ego.. and play as one… they aren’t worth a thing.

When the Boston Red Sox traded Babe Ruth, they sold him for $100,000 and a Broadway musical. 86 years of misery for a hundred grand and some show tunes???.... Its poor decisions like this that will haunt us for years to come. The idea that you let “the one” get away. That job, that love interest. All because it seemed like a good idea at the time, or it was just too much effort, or for simply a matter of convenience. Nothing worth having ever came easy, but in the end it’s certainly worth it. Imagine what the Sox could have achieved... Bad trades and decisions are a part of baseball as much as they are a part of life. And if 86 years seems like a long time to city of loyal fans, imagine what it feels like when you go it alone.

It’s in these last days, that you sometimes wish you’d hung it up when you were younger. They wouldn’t see you in such a weakened state. But the fact is they’ve been with you all the way. They stood by you when you went 0 for 10.. and you were throwing fewer K’s than the alphabet. Sure the drunks in the outfield would give you hell and harass your mother, but that’s only because they didn’t feel like you were living up to your true potential. And they should know. They’ll celebrate your victories, and mourn your losses, and let you know when your head ain’t right. But if they still care after all the hell you’ve put them through, then you know you’ve made it to the show. After all, fans don’t boo nobodies.

The point is no matter what life throws you, you got to always keep swinging. There will be times you will hit one to the fence, and times you will get called “Out.” Such is life, and it’s full of successes and failures. But dwelling on failure, only leaves you in a slump, and a bad slump is like a soft bed. Its easy to fall into, and hell to get out of. Accept your shortcomings, accept your flaws.. change what you can, and keep swinging. Revel in the fact you play a sport where three out of ten ain’t bad. And above all, never take your eye off the ball. Because the pitcher doesn’t, nor do the crowds of fans and naysayers.. so why should you?

So what will you do with your last at bat?.. seal a legacy or go down in infamy? What will they say about you when all is said and done???

I don’t know much about life, but I do know my sports. And though the players change, certain variables remain the same. You'll win some. You'll lose some.

And some'll get rained out.

All that matters is that you came to play ball.

We have been appointed umpires in a cosmic game of our own devising, and at any moment we choose, we can declare ourselves home safe.

1 comment:

OTM said...

WTF are we talking about today???
All I can say is in a few days you'll understand your rant, will be followed up by the same exact notion of WTF????

Umpires, the planets, the Rays in 1st, maybe just maybe you ducked when the bat flew out of the hands of fellow D-Ray. Excuse me, THE RAYS batter.

Sometimes I think about what role you play in our lives? Is it that a woman's perspective every 6 weeks is better than the beat reporter in our area? At least the view is better, but sometimes it isn't about the view.

Blogging has a different feel from sports reporting for the simple fact that you control your own domain and you put what you want down on paper and Viola, that's your point and your sticking to it.

Without having to worry about the boss, for a moment there's a thought this was going to be a discussion on a marriage on the DL with a ballplayer ala Mariah and Nick Cannon? Like I said today is WTF Friday......

Enjoy the weekend, Fenway Park???
When you see the AP release on the Sox stunt you'll understand WTF...