AN ASIDE: BASEBALL

Many people find baseball boring.  They base it upon the lengthy lapse of time between hits.  No action.  Nothing happening.

I am the opposite.  I love baseball.  Ever since I read George Will’s Men At Work: The Craft of Baseball, I became hooked.  His book exposes there’s a lot going on in a baseball game.

Watch a fielder.  You don’t even have to observe the pitcher since you’ll know when the ball will be hurdled toward the plate.  The fielder remains motionless.  Then suddenly his body tenses.  He rocks forward on his toes.  His gloved hand rises.  When the ball hits the catcher’s glove, his body relaxes again.

Or marvel over a duel between the pitcher and batter.  The batter only has four-tenths of a second to determine what to do.  Does he swing?  Can he tell from the arm angle if the ball will be in or out of the strike zone?  Does a pattern exist so he can anticipate the next pitch?

Then the best part occurs: An explosion of activity.  The loud crack of the bat.  It arches toward the outfield.  Is it gone?  Rising from your seat you scream, “Bye, Bye!” as the ball disappears over the wall.

Or an outfielder runs full speed to his right as the ball arcs and falls rapidly to earth.  He narrows the gap and leaps extending his body parallel to the field.  The ball disappears.  Did he catch it?  His body reverberates crashing against the grass.  A raised glove confirms the white orb is firmly in his grasp.  “What a catch!”

Or as a hard grounder careens toward the shortstop, the ballet begins.  In one graceful motion he scoops the ball up, nimbly transfers it to his free hand, and throws it to second base.  Simultaneously the second baseman catches the ball, steps on the bag, spins on one foot, and throws it to first base.  As the runner approaches, the first baseman stretches to scoop the ball up off the dirt just before the runner’s foot hits the bag.  The umpire pumps his fist.

Is baseball really boring because nothing is happening?  To me, it is a graceful game containing both mental and physical skills.  Something always occurs.  You just have to know what to look for.

There is a corollary between baseball and writing.  Being successful at both is a long shot.  For a baseball player, only 15% of draftees make it to the major leagues.  For first time authors, less than one percent creates a successful novel.  I assume both players and writers don’t regret taking their shot.  I definitely don’t!!

3 Comments

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3 responses to “AN ASIDE: BASEBALL

  1. THOMAS P STILLMAN

    Hi M
    I love baseball as well. really my favorite.

    Tom Stillman
    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

  2. kohlrogge@comcast.net

    Beautifully written Mark. I loved it.

    Let me know when we can get together for coffee again.

    Like

  3. Mark,

    A kindred spirit! I played ball all through my education and coached my kids. When I was a boy, summer evenings in Buffalo, NY, my dad, uncle, brother, and grandpa would play alley catch in the growing dusk while the play-by-play of the Buffalo Bisons came from an old radio set in a screened window. Those warm, darkening evenings were a paradise to this ten year old, bettered only by twice-a-week Little League games. George Wills’ book is a classic. Have you read any of Roger Angell’s baseball books — “The Boys of Summer,” “Five Seasons,” “Late Innings,” or “Season Ticket” (or any of his New Yorker articles on baseball? He’s probably the best baseball writer in America (he’s either very old or dead now). You’ve inspired me to go to the library this afternoon and pick up a couple of classics! Thanks.
    Bill

    Liked by 1 person

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