Skip to main content

baseball, artfully

photo by gregory a. milinovich, taken in warriors mark, pa., april 21, 2014

have i mentioned how much i love baseball?  

okay, good.  because it's true.  

i was reminded of that again the other day when i stumbled across this wonderful little article containing one writer's 25 favorite songs about baseball (he neglected to include anything from my favorite baseball album "Roberto Clemente: Un Tributo Musical").  it wasn't so much the songs he picked or his description of them that captured my attention, as it was his brief analysis about why baseball inspires such great art.  among other things, he writes, 

People who complain that baseball games are too slow are the kind of people who would rather watch cop shows on TV than read a good book. Perhaps that’s why football does better on the tube, while baseball does better at the library. The patient, burst-and-pause pace of baseball is not a drawback; it’s the sport’s greatest asset. (Geoffrey Himes, in "the curmedgeon: baseball songs,"  pastemagazine.com, april 22, 2014)
i couldn't agree more.  when people complain that baseball is too slow, i cringe.  you see, part of the great beauty of baseball is in its pace, its staccato rhythm, in which action is followed by a chance to gather, regroup, reflect, and move forward.  it is a sport ripe with pregnant pauses, which gives it room to breath, and offers spectators the opportunity to muse, to write, to anticipate, to remember, and to dream.  himes goes on to say that the lack of a mask or any major padding to the body makes it one of the more human-looking of sports as well, giving the viewer an easier avenue into imagining one's self on the field.

i can relate.  i took a walk the other day, while visiting my wife's family, and came across a group of little league baseball fields in the mid-morning sun.  they are positioned in central pennsylvania, overlooking a rolling vista of cornfields, which causes their low-cut green grass to stand in wonderful contrast, like something out of a "field of dreams" location.  it being a weekday morning, there was no one on the fields.  just me.  and a baseball i had found in the cornfield.  so i mentally envisioned the game.  i was the shortstop.  i was the pitcher.  i was the catcher, crouching, calling for a fastball, high and tight.  i was the batter, settling in, muscles tensed, poised.  i watched the graceful trajectory of the ball in my mind's eye, a pleasing parabola.  i was the baserunner, advancing to third on the hit, a tumbleweed of energy and sinew, grinding and sliding for the bag.  i was the third basemen, bent low, catching the beamed throw from right, swiping the leather down to apply the tag.  i was the umpire, calling loudly with conviction:  SAFE!  i was the crowd, enthusiastic, hopeful.

sure, it was just a little league field on a monday morning, but baseball does this to me.  it calls me into a magical place where miracles happen.  it is less feeding frenzy, and more musical masterpiece, with ebbs and flows, crescendos and decrescendos, half notes and whole rests.  it is a canvas upon which paint isn't thrown on in wild, raving fury, but is applied carefully, artfully.  whether it's on an empty little league field, watching a real game from the stands while enjoying a cold beverage, or checking the scores on my smartphone, waiting to see what happens on this 3-2 pitch with runners on the corners and two outs, it is magical and musical, all of it.  it may be slow, but only in the way that a delicious steak is best enjoyed patiently, without shoveling it down like a Big Mac; or in the way that a backrub is most perfectly delivered: carefully, intentionally, and deliberately.  baseball is slow in the same way that breathing is slow when you are perfectly content and the temperature is just right and the only difference between this and heaven is that you know this can't last.  baseball is slow like that.  like a masterpiece. like music.  like art.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

#thoughtsandprayers

i made these comments and prayed the following prayer at one of our worship services at SPWF yesterday, and had a few folks asked if i would post them, so there they are: 
It has been a season of terrible tragedy.  And I have noticed in the news a trending phrase: thoughts and prayers.  It even has its own hashtag on twitter and other social media, but net necessarily in a good way.  People are understandably tired of hearing about others’ thoughts and prayers, when that is only a thinly-veiled way of saying that our only obligation to those who suffer is a brief moment of silence, or nothing more than a tweet or public statement.  The truth is that, for those of us who follow Jesus, much is required when our neighbors suffer.  We are called to do justice where we can, to love kindness and mercy, and to walk with God through it all.  But let us be careful not to throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater.  We are, as people of faith, those who know that prayer is not simply an em…

a divided tree

there is a tree in my back yard.  i'm pretty sure it's an oak tree.  at least that's what i think Shannon told me.  i don't know my oaks from my maples, my elms from my locusts.  to me, it's a tree: a corinthian column bursting up into life and glory.  full of sap and pulp and rings and bugs and cells pulsing with water and always reaching for something.  it is full of rhythm, reach and flourish then fall and die, and repeat. 

this particular tree, though, isn't of one mind. 

half of it's rusted orange leaves have given up their grip and surrendered -gracefully or not - to the pull of gravity and the threat of winter.  the north side of this inauspicious oak is just about bare naked, all sticks and straight lines, a skeleton of itself.  but the side that looks south is stubbornly resisting change.  no longer green, the leaves have compromised their summer vibrancy, but they are clearly not ready to concede death just yet. 

i feel like i can relate to this …

vote. and pray. but do not be afraid (the King is alive).

i'm not sure how many americans right now are feeling optimistic about the government.  i know i'm not.  in fact, while i didn't live through the civil war or anything, i have to think that faith in our elected leaders - indeed the whole system of electing them in the first place - is at one of its lowest points.  i just don't have a great deal of confidence in those individuals who have been elected, or in those who want to be.  i find myself slipping at times into what feels like a swamp of apathy: sinking, to be sure, but not sure that i care enough anymore to do much about it.  i see this attitude all around me: in conversations, on social media, and in popular culture.  perhaps there is no more clear indication of our nation's view of the government than this current election season, when we would teeter on electing liars and thieves, crooks and clowns. 

which is why i was so startled as i sat down to read psalm 72 this morning. as i read the ancient song, i…