On Writing

Pitchers and Catchers Soon to Report

Another year, another fallen Eagles team. But hope springs eternal. It’s not too far before the gentle hum of baseball, the crack of bat on ball, and the smack of ball into glove echo again to signal that Spring is coming. This spring promises to be a bit different (for starters, the Philadelphia Phillies are World Champions. W00t!).

Baseball’s a good metaphor to remind us that even at difficult times in the economy, the national discourse on politics, and in our own lives the simple power of repetition is good for what ails you. Even in a scary time like the present I like the idea that just like every January and February I am thinking about what’s happening in the world of baseball. The worst teams, including my current hometown Mariners, have a chance to remake themselves and become champs. The best teams (my beloved Phillies among them) might be able to sustain their greatness (if everything works right). The hated teams (Yankees among them) will continue to spend like the Federal Government will bail them out, pay their luxury taxes, and build them a new stadium all at once. And the lovable Cubs might contend after all. Again. (But don’t bet on it.)

I like baseball because it focuses on fundamentals. Learn how to throw the ball, hit the ball, and field the ball, and you can master the strategy that results from the repetition of those simple skills. Because like most things, baseball gets a good deal more complicated once you add the other 17 players on the field (and the rest in the dugout). If we can take the same skills and bring them into our every day tasks, we won’t remove the variability that results from the messiness of human nature but we can at least add some consistency, wit, and grace.

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