Thursday, April 06, 2006

Twists and turns

It dawns on you slowly after you've taken in several games. Well, you notice it immediately, but the significance of it takes a little longer to digest.

There is no clock in baseball.

Football is marked by sudden, spasmic bursts of action. Basketball is a constant blur of movement. (I would make a comment about soccer, but why even bother?)

In the other two major American sports, you can hold the ball, at least for awhile. Run the ball up the middle. Pass the basketball around until the shot clock hits 10.

But not in baseball. Nope, you just have to go out there, face down your opponent, and win the damn thing.

Baseball's pace is called boring by the ignorant, leisurely by the kind. Perfect is a better word. There is time, as Roger Angell once wrote, to ponder inaction.

The batter steps out of the box to take a couple of swings. You gaze out at the left fielder, watch him move from side to side. You glance at the scoreboard, to make sure your scorebook matches the official count. You look at the pitcher, watch him grab the rosin bag and walk around the mound.

You have time to chat with your neighbor about the great catch Andruw Jones made the night before. You gaze up at the pink and red hue of twilight, marveling at the beauty of the setting sun. You glance in the bullpen, if you can see it, to see who might be warming up.

This is the action. This is the moment. This, and a million other reasons, is why baseball is the greatest game of them all.

And it feels a lot like real life. You could be on the verge of victory, only to suddenly, shockingly, be handed a defeat. Sometimes a freak turn of events swings the game in your direction. Sometimes it rains. Sometimes it pours.

Take last night in Los Angeles. The Atlanta Braves spotted the Dodgers a 5-0 lead. Starting pitcher Horacio Ramirez was lit up early and often. The Dodgers were headed toward a rout.

All of a sudden, Odalis Perez lost his control. Just like that the score was tied. Then the Braves scored three runs to take an 8-5 lead. Tamahawk Chop time, right?


Relievers John Thomson and Mike Remlinger got into trouble. The Dodgers clipped away, the momentum ever-so-subtly shifting from Atlanta Red to Dodger Blue. The home crowd woke up. And the score was tied yet again after seven innings.

Then Ryan Langerhans hit a ground-rule double in the eighth to put the Braves back ahead. Closer Chris Reitsma restored order. Atlanta escaped with the game (and series) win.

There is a great old John Denver song, "Looking For Space," about life's twists and turns. "When I think that I'm moving, suddenly things stand still" the song says. "I'm afraid cause I think they always will."

Then a little bit later: "Then I look in the center and suddenly everything's clear. I find myself in the sunshine and my dreams."

And so it goes. Things start moving just about the time they stand still. Your dreams are lingering somewhere in limbo. And then, out of nowhere, everything falls into place.

Something to ponder on this journey called life. And during a chilly early spring ball game at Dodger Stadium.


Blogger bravefish said...

You've actually made baseball sound interesting... I might even watch a game!!!!!!!!!

SOunds like you love it!

12:36 PM  

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