Sports · Uncategorized

A Baseball State of Mind

Brian Wilson has rhythm.

The 2011 baseball season started a couple of weeks ago and is finally settling into a rhythm. More than most team sports, certainly most American team sports, baseball is all about rhythm. There is a rhythm to a season, to a game, even to an at bat.

To my mind, most of the things that have torn at the fabric of the game involve deconstructing it. Tearing it down. Taking a game that is much greater than the sum of its parts and turning it into, well, parts. Imagine taking a Beethoven piano concerto and taking all of the notes and putting them in different buckets. B flats in one bucket, Cs in another. You could analyze the number of each type of note, you could come up with probabilities for which note is most likely to follow another. You could crunch these numbers and some up with criteria to decide which other pieces you might enjoy.  Put that into an Excel pivot table and presto!

Yes, I realize how ridiculous that sounds. If you remove the soul and the visceral element from Beethoven, you’re left with an unsatisfying collection of notes that are played in a predetermined order. I think we’re doing the same to baseball and it hurts my heart.

Fantasy baseball, free agency with the associated monster contracts, big-money owners building a team for one championship run and then tearing it down all contribute. My beloved San Francisco Giants won the World Series last year and it was a great experience. But the experience was the fans uniting around Brian Wilson’s beard or my two sons cutting school to go to the massive victory parade. It wasn’t just a collection of games won.

Baseball, like life, has a rhythm. I enjoy a homerun or a  double into the gap but truth be told, I crave the comfort it provides in spite of people who want to destroy it from within and a world which seems hell bent on making it less than it was meant to be.


2 thoughts on “A Baseball State of Mind

  1. All sports reflect the entropic decline in society. The present trends are to try to shrink the experience to conform to our rapidly lowering boredom threshold. So cricket, admittedly an obvious target, is down from five, or three days, to one, then to a couple of hours. Never mind the damage to the games that you and I have loved . Yesterday a quicker form of golf was launched, with two flags per hole for God’s sake.

    Money, of course, is the motivation, and what you call the rhythm of the sport, the statistics and the traditions are the casualties, unmourned by the today’s fans who are encouraged only to seek a quick thrill.

  2. Wonderful post! Just this morning I was reading a soul-destroying article about Derek Jeter’s slide from hitting grace and how the odds, given his age, are against him ever getting better. All the stats were lined up as proof.

    Very nice analogy to Ludwig … and I didn’t know you cared about such music!

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