You know the drill. On the USA side of the pond, 30 something teams play each other day after day for about 8 years hoping to get into the play offs and then one of them is crowned World Champion. Everywhere else no one has a clue or actually cares.
Baseball is a sport that polarizes more than just about any other - with those who love it, loving it, and just about everyone else hating it - even those who have never seen a game.
Now here I am - splat down in the middle of the Play off series (catchily titled the ALDS, NLDS, ALCS, NLCS - never let it be said that my American neighbors don’t love acronyms) - and I am learning a lot.
Firstly, I am loving Baseball. Yes, it helps that the playoffs suddenly introduce a story line to each game (with a series decided in a week or so vs the long drudgery of 162 game season) - but I have been to 2 regular season games as well - and I think having immersed myself in the sport (go to game, read on line, pick up the paper, ask knowledgeable (ish) questions of aficionados, watch the TV) - I just get it....
I will keep it simple - for those of you not based in USA - but it just works for me. It does not offer rolling action, and it is tough to determine any real athletic genius (the margins for error between great hit and foul are tiny) - but the key is that it delivers so much intrigue, so many stories. For someone like me who loves the thinking in a sport, the planning, the working out how to win - Baseball is like a moving, thinking animal.
It’s similarity to cricket is something that I was really surprised by - and one that both sports probably would prefer to avoid - but the way that ‘outs’ or wickets have to be worked out, have to be earned is compelling.
Anyway - onward - this blog is not about promoting baseball - each to their own and all that. Onto the second (and key) point of this piece.
Baseball has had another impact on my thinking. Picture again the headline news at the top - Baseball is alien, baseball is unknown to anyone outside the USA (all the exceptions to this prove the rule OK!). I knew nothing about it (just about), and my education has been one that I can actually ‘feel’ myself going through.
Then, an awakening. I have moved to a new country, a new continent - with new cultures, new rules, new methods. Nervousness was there with the move, excitement of course - but I had not clocked that I would be learning, that I would be improving as a person.
Looking back - I guess it is obvious - and maybe it is a flaw that I should have been working on. But baseball has shown me the light.
You will never achieve everything that is possible in life. With every step that you take, another awaits. At every decision you make, more opportunities will open up - and the horizon that you are forever chasing towards, will keep getting wider and wider (though it may indeed get closer at the same time - if that does not make sense - go speak to a scientist/psychologist cross).
There is so much that we are either unaware of or lacking in knowledge in life - and even though we may think that we are doing well with our own lot - there is something like Baseball (huge in it’s own way) just waiting for you to go explore.
The lesson this has given to me is that I need to keep pushing, need to keep improving, need to learn of different cultures, need to challenge myself as often as I can (fair-play mind - I am more than happy to book in a few non-challenging days - maybe catch a bit of baseball).
I knew nothing of baseball before (the new cultures/events dotted around the world), but now my eyes have been opened up to its wonder (you will grow by taking in these new things), and I know that I will be a better person for getting to experience the game (life gets better the more you soak up).
I cannot see myself ever loving it to spend 162 days a year watching my team perform, but I will always remember Baseball as the sport that showed me what I should be doing for the rest of my life.
OK - off to plan my next 'home run'