Time Doesn’t Matter, Home Is Not 4th Base and Other Lessons of Baseball

Baseball is poetry. Bart Giamatti said that, and after a weekend at diamonds while our Matthew and his team played in a tournament, I realize more than ever, he’s right. Things I’ve learned as a baseball fanatic (and if someone can explain the infield fly opt-out rule, I’m game to listen).

1. You gotta know how to get out of a bind

‘Doesn’t matter who got you into your bases-loaded-no-outs-sun-in-your-eyes-hot-hitter-at-the-plate situation. Sometimes, you’re called to the mound. You answer the call with passion yet calmness and pitch. You throw fast, accurate, field if needed and get your team outta that bind.

Matt on the mound.
Matt on the mound.

Other times, it’s your turn at the plate. You may be needed to advance a runner or clear three ducks off the pond. Step up, lean in–and for heaven’s sake don’t strike out looking.

Lean in and swing!
Lean in and swing!

2. Time doesn’t really matter

As the only major sport that isn’t timed, baseball allows thought, contemplation and long innings that can be painful or ecstatic (depends if you’re in the field or rounding bases to score runs). If you’re really lucky, time will slow to a delicious near-halt while you’ll get to play under the lights on a hot summer night. Magic. Memories of our team’s win that night have a glow in my mind.

under lights

3. You have fans. Make ’em proud.

Our team had siblings, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, neighbors and of course proud parents there for all 6 (!) tourney games. Even if you don’t think someone is rooting for you. Even if you can’t see them, your fans are there. Do ’em proud and do your darndest.

Matt's little sis and his teammate's little sis. It helps the mojo if your fans color coordinate, too.
Matt’s little sis and his teammate’s little sis. It helps the mojo if your fans color coordinate, too.

4. Tame complicated things with simple solutions.

The #1 reason I adore baseball is that it is one complicated game. Your next move can shift with each pitch. You need to pay careful attention to details like pitch count, where the batter hit last time up, your third base coach’s signals and of course your spot in the batting order. And just when I thought I understood the infield fly rule, a call in another game this weekend revealed it’s more complicated when you don’t take advantage of it. A game was won on that rule. Yet the solutions are usually simple. Throw the ball, catch the ball, hit the ball. Just know where, when, how fast–and be ready to change your plan every few seconds.

boys

5. Food is overrated. But tourney Tshirts are priceless.

Although if you really wanted peanuts for breakfast, I hope you came early.
Although if you really wanted peanuts for breakfast, I hope you came early.
Lunch, and necessary accessories.
Lunch, and necessary accessories.
Countdown is on.
Countdown is on.

6. Home is not fourth base. Home is home.

Home is where all our adventures begin–and end. Home is about rejoining, restoration, warmth, comfort, familiarity.  Baseball is entirely about going home. It’s the only game you ever heard of where you want to get back to where you started. All the other games are territorial – you want to get his or her territory – but not baseball. Baseball simply wants to get you from here, back around to here.

There truly is no place like home. Especially a not-perfectly manicured one that shows signs of tough times, quick slides and foot-stomping celebrations.
There truly is no place like home. Especially a not-perfectly manicured one that shows signs of tough times, quick slides and foot-stomping celebrations.

It was lovely to come back home Sunday evening, with a tired, sunburned, dirty, sorta-nourished family and a third-place medal. Most of all, I’ll forever remember another stanza of this great poetry called baseball. Or should it be titled life?

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