I watch baseball

Tonight is Game 6 of the 2014 World Series. I've been trying to get work done. I was successful-ish this morning; I'm not so successful this afternoon. Why is baseball consuming my thoughts today when it is "just a game"? Grant Brisbee gave me the words the other day in an article he wrote:

I watch baseball because it isn’t real life. It’s a proxy for real world hopes and fears, failure and success — all the good stuff and all the bad stuff, but with the ability to make the good things the best things in the entire world at the same time the bad things are possible to shake off. Baseball is a refuge, it’s the meaning of life, it’s meaningless. I feel more comfortable not understanding baseball than not understanding the other 21 hours of my day, so baseball sticks around and pretends to mean something at the same time it means something.
— Grant Brisbee in "Madison Bumgarner is a legend, Giants one win away from World Series win"
Buster Posey in the dugout during the 2014 World Series (Source: kshb.com)

Buster Posey in the dugout during the 2014 World Series (Source: kshb.com)

In that article he was both summarizing the Giants' Game 5 victory while eulogizing the far too early death of Oscar Taveras, the young phenom of the St. Louis Cardinals that was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic just days after he was playing in the NLCS against the Giants. When things like this happen it is a reminder that baseball is just a game, yet it was this game that brought Taveras into our lives for a short time, made him a family member to other Cardinals players and management, and therefore is the reason we know he lived and died. Baseball builds community. Taveras was probably like extended family to thousands of Cardinals fans who never met him. I'd be deeply saddened if one of our young players died like Taveras died. 

Baseball prepares us for people to enter our lives and leave them again. We watch people get traded, go elsewhere as free agents, and retire. While this fails to compare to losing someone through death, it is this sort of small scale simulation of real life that helps us prepare for real life itself. Baseball, and other sports, taught me a lot about disappointment, losing with pride, winning with humility, hard work, dedication, and tipping your hat when bested by someone better. 

This summer I was talking to a friend of mine about several celebrity pastor figures who seem totally unable to deal with people disagreeing with them. They heresy-hunt and politic their way through any opposition, anyone who doesn't roll out the red carpet for them. Now, I know so-called "jocks" can be bullies, but sometimes I wonder if these pastors may have benefitted from losing a few times on a high school baseball team. Sometimes sport allows you to go through a simulation that prepares you for the real thing. We use these analogies all the time: you can "hit a home run" or "a grand slam"; you can "strike out"; and so forth and so on. I'm not saying you need sport to prepare for real life, or that people who play sport are always better prepared, but I know personally that even today I can watch an interview with Michael Jordan and his passion and work ethic for the game of basketball motivates me in my studies and career goals. I'll never understand the level of dedication exhibited by Jordan, but I do understand to a far lesser degree what it means to be committed to basketball and I've been able to transfer those lessons to real life. On the contrary, Bill Gates' business savvy means nothing to me. I have no idea how Gates goes about his day to day, even to a lesser degree. I cannot find motivation in his success. I can't transfer principles from "good business practices" to my life (not saying others can't, just that I can't).

So, tonight is nothing and everything. If the Giants lose tonight and Wednesday I won't lie, I'll be upset, I'll be sad, but that feeling of defeat (like many other seasons as a Giants' fan) is a sort of vaccine for real life failure, real life disappointment. I'm sure this sounds strange to some, but I know others get it. Similarly, if the Giants win tonight there is something to learn about respecting your opponent (unless they are Los Angeles Dodgers), celebrating respectfully, acknowledging your competition, praising your teammates, etc. That said, go Giants! I want the baseball season to end tonight. I don't want to watch baseball tomorrow. I can't afford another day of distraction!