Sunday, April 02, 2006
This guy says to me, 'I have learned the art of the pitch. . .'
Every year, just about this time, I get all wrapped up in baseball movies, mainly because that's when cable dusts them off after a long winter's nap. The Pride of the Yankees, Bull Durham, It Happens Every Spring, The Natural, Field of Dreams, Bang the Drum Slowly, The Bad News Bears. There's something special about watching a movie about baseball that's almost better than watching the game itself.
But think about the game itself for a few minutes. Think about the way this simple game both requires and rewards individual effort and team play. More so than any other team sport, baseball is fueled by self-confidence. The game cannot be played without it.
Take, for example, the double play. There are few moments in life more spontaneously choreographed than the six-four-three double play. The short stop scoops the hot grounder and tosses it to his second baseman, who, in one smooth motion, catches the ball, taps the base, leaps high to avoid the determined slide of a frustrated runner, pivots in the air, and delivers the ball like a rocket to the outstretched glove of the first baseman. Watch it again. Bang. Bang. Bang. All the motions are practiced, but every movement is necessisarily impromptu. In any case, the whole ballet is all over in five seconds. According to the rules, there's only one double play allowed per inning.
Whereas on defense it’s all about team practice and trust, on offense it’s all about one on one. There is perhaps no greater moment of confidence and loneliness, and no finer point between terror and resolve, than that experienced by a pitcher in those last moments before the ball is unleashed. Remember, all the pitcher has to do is to throw the ball past the batter and into the glove of his catcher 60 feet six inches away. But because of that guy standing there with a piece of lumber in his hand and a scowl on his face, each pitch is an invitation to disaster. Screw the fact that the batter has all of one-tenth of a second to decide what the pitch is going be, and another tenth to decide where to swing before beginning the stroke, while the ball is still thirty feet from the plate. Dude, it's all about Zen. (How the brain does these asonishing calculations may still be a mystery, but even the most clueless among us can second guess later.)The tension involved could power a city.
So just relax, remind yourself that the game is out of your hands, and settle back for the longest season. Curse the Yankees first, early, and often. And remember, whatever team it is that you're pulling for, they're probably not... um... gay.
Not that that has anything to do with anything.
Thanks to Portia, my least-hated New York Yankees fan, reminding me about the curious case of of Sidd Finch. It's about baseball.
God bless you.
We will bury you.
Posted by spd rdr at 3:55 PM