Around this same time every year, I find myself fielding the question, “Cadence, why baseball?”
If you’ve known me for an extended period of time, you know I’m a baseball fan. Especially a Braves one. If you grew up, like me, in the Braves glory days in Atlanta or going to major league games as a kid, the fandom usually goes unquestioned. But lots of people, and too many of my friends, grew up without baseball, without all the nostalgic walk-off homerun memories and sometimes without even dawning a single ballpark experience. So, they usually ask me the question above.
But the reason I’m writing a blog about this isn’t to give a well-written defense or educational analysis of the game. I'm writing this blog to share what I think baseball has taught me and can teach all of us.
I went to my first game of the 2012 season the other day to watch the Braves beat the Pirates. To get things straight, I don’t prefer to watch baseball on TV. I can do highlights all day, but baseball in a tube isn’t what I find romantic about baseball. I’d rather be at the park. So as I found myself sitting cozy in my stadium seat, with an ice cold Coca-Cola in one hand and a hotdog in the other, I thought about how the time seemed to slow down.
I know what you’re thinking, time slowing down, eh? Was that a Coca-Cola or your second beer? Fair enough, I’ll explain..
Life is fast, and we’re picking up speed all the time. When I was studying new media in college, one of the consistent findings was that because people were buying into the idea that they were saving time with new technology, they were cramming more things into their schedules thus creating more fast-paced, busy, distracted lives than before. It’s true for us today and we all know it to some extent. Not many things in life move slow anymore, and not many of us are willing to slow down, either.
But when you’re at a baseball game, all that rushing around seems to float out of the top of the stadium. Whether you’ve grown up watching baseball or only caught a few minutes on TV (maybe on accident), there’s no hiding that it’s a slow game. Unlike most sports, players can go long stretches of time without even moving. The game requires patience and a devoted attention span; The game requires your time. And that’s exactly why I love it. For those few hours you’re in that stadium seat, you’re also kept in a sort of sanctuary from a bustling, distracted world. Even as I’ve been typing this blog, I’ve been tempted to click over to other tabs at least 10 times because it’s just how we've come to operate. We've clouded the beauty of giving things our undivided time, and instead we have to schedule the hours we can "unplug." We know fast-paced well, and we are (I am) often too comfortable in it.
I’m not going to go into everything I love about baseball in this post (the childhood nostalgia, the traditions, the community, franchise players not being extinct, team ethic, being the happiest game ever, etc). However, I’m sharing this nugget because I think lovers and haters of baseball can all relate to the benefits of a stadium "sanctuary" in some way. We all need outlets that remind us we aren't slaves to time, to remind us there might actually be something to be said about the moments we share in the absence of high action with the presence of good company. The ability to be is a fading virtue, and I hope we’ll fight for it. I hope we’ll see a day at the ballpark, or an afternoon on a lazy river with friends or a long walk not as wasted time, but as investments in the virtue of being.
Take me out to the ballgame.