“Baseball is the most perfect of games, solid, true, pure and precious as diamonds. If only life were so simple. Within the baselines anything can happen. Tides can reverse; oceans can open. That’s why they say, “the game is never over until the last man is out.” Colors can change, lives can alter, anything is possible in this gentle, flawless, loving game.”
~W.P. Kinsella, Shoeless Joe
Many people complain about the long, slow pace of baseball games. I believe these people simply don’t get it. Baseball isn’t about non-stop action, baseball is a more sublime experience. Baseball is like summer – slow, lazy and to be savored, like an ice cold beer on a hot summer day, that’s baseball. That’s not to say baseball can’t be heart-stopping excitement too.
One only has to mention Kirk Gibson and you are instantly transported back to game one of the 1988 World Series and the single most iconic moment in baseball history. Gibson limps to the plate, the Dodgers are down 4-3 in the 9th inning against the Oakland Athletics. Every person in that stadium is holding their collective breaths.
“And look who’s coming up,” Scully said on the NBC broadcast. “All year long, they looked to him to light the fire, and, all year long, he answered the demands until he was unable to start tonight with two bad legs. … With two outs, you talk about a roll of the dice, this is it.”
~ Vin Scully
We all know what happened next … a game winning home run like you’d expect to see in a Hollywood movie, but not real life.
“In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.”
~ Vin Scully
Or go back no further than Wednesday night’s epic 9th inning Little League walk-off homer by Yasiel Puig. If that didn’t send your heart into late night palpitations nothing will.
So yes, baseball can be unbelievably exciting too. But, it’s simply, so much more than that.
Picture this, a perfect afternoon in the ballpark – a baby blue sky, the sun warming your face and a perfectly manicured field. If you inhale deeply you might catch a whiff of the freshly mowed grass. Your senses come alive with the sights, sounds and smells of the park around you. There’s a camaraderie in those stands cheering on your favorite team. People from all walks of life coming together, leaving life’s problems at the gate and enjoying a summer day together. Cheering, booing, and bonding under the often unrelenting sunshine as you sit side by side in those glorious stands watching America’s Pastime.
“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again. Oh…people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”
~ Field of Dreams
In this age of instant gratification, I love that baseball harkens back to an earlier time when we didn’t have to check our phones every few minutes for fear of missing something. No, baseball seems to say, “Stop. Relax. Enjoy.”
Vin Scully, as always, said it best:
“Football is to baseball as blackjack is to bridge. One is the quick jolt. The other the deliberate, slow-paced game of skill, but never was a sport more ideally suited to television than baseball. It’s all there in front of you. It’s theatre, really. The star is the spotlight on the mound, the supporting cast fanned out around him, the mathematical precision of the game moving with the kind of inevitability of Greek tragedy. With the Greek chorus in the bleachers!” Source: Los Angeles Times (June 20, 1976)
So, instead of searching for ways to speed up the game, how about we learn how to slow down. What’s the saying… It’s not the destination, it’s the journey … Baseball is a journey, gather up some family and friends, grab a cold beer, a hot Dodger dog and savor it. Savor every single minute, these are the things memories are built on.
“Baseball doesn’t move too slow, you move too fast.” ~ Jody Wahl