Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Top 10 Reasons I Love Baseball

In honor of the All-Star game being played right now, I thought I would compile a list of the reasons I truly love baseball...

#10 - It's American. Although (like anything in the West) it may have it's primitive origins elsewhere, the development of baseball as we know it is distinctly American. It has long been considered our "national pastime" and even been described as a "national religion". And yet it still has magnificently interesting diversity, with players from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Japan, Korea, Australia...you name it. And if the embargo is ever lifted, look for a huge influx of Cuban players.

#9 - It's a summer sport. I hate being cold. Granted, my M's had four games straight snowed out this spring, and October can get pretty nippy, but the majority of the season occurs during the hallowed months of summer. Nothing like a cold beer on a hot day at the ballpark. Which leads me to...

#8 - It has a long season. 162 games. Plus 2 playoff SERIES, plus the World SERIES. No ten game season and a 1 game showdown here.

#7 - It's full of nice guys. Sure, not 100%. There will always be the Barry Bonds and Jose Consecos, but for the most part, baseball is dominated by hard working, respectable guys. Not overpaid thugs.

#6 - Everyone gets cool nicknames. Even the managers and coaches can have them. This can usually be accomplished by either shortening a first or last name, or adding a 'y' to the end, or often a combination of the two. In certain cases, a completely unique, honorary name can be bestowed. The result makes for an exceedingly more colorful listening and discussing experience. The Big Unit, The Kid, Papi, Ichi, Wash, Grover, Bone - heck, you can even get away with calling a 6'8" first baseman named Richie Sexson "Big Sexy".

#5 - The coaches wear uniforms. Hey, these guys stopped looking good in stirrup pants a looong time ago. But they're out there suited up just like their players. It's a team effort, folks.

#4 - It's a thinking man's game. Statistics. Strategy. It's all about the numbers. Batting averages, ERA, lefty-righty match ups, slugging percentage, fielding percentage, OBP, OPS, WHIP...If it can be calculated, it's a statistic. And the managers and players study them well. There are leaders in every stat, and sacred records doomed to be broken. Plus they all get cool acronyms.

#3 - It has tons of exciting plays. It has been said that baseball is the ultimate combination of skill, timing, athleticism, and strategy. The home run certainly has captured the most attention over the years, but even that can come in a variety of ways. The walk off, the grand slam, or perhaps the inside the park homer, as was accomplished by Ichiro in today's All Star game for the first time in history. But for a true baseball fan, a sac bunt or a suicide squeeze can be infinitely more exciting than a homer. Triples are exciting. There's running, leaping, and sliding catches. Robbing base hits and home runs and stealing bases. A towering upper-deck drive, or a dribbler down the line that keeps the inning alive, it's all exciting when you understand the wonderful subtleties and nuances of the game.

#2 - It's unique. Virtually every other major team sport (and even a few individual sports) are simply variations of the same theme. Hockey, Basketball, Soccer, Football, Tennis, Volleyball - they all involve either moving an object to opposite sides of a playing field, or hitting it back and forth across a divider. The field, the gameplay, the complex rules - the very essence of baseball is unique, refreshing, and imaginative. Which leads me to reason numero uno...

#1 - It ain't over til it's over. One of the unique qualities of baseball is it's lack of a clock. Unlike other major team sports, there is no way to gain a lead and simply kill the clock. Sure, if a team is ahead after 9 innings, they win. But they have to get that 27th out. There is no "sudden death" to restrain rallies, and extra innings can last indefinitely. And while my Mariners have been on the losing side of one of the biggest comeback in baseball history - they blew a 12 run lead over the Cleveland Indians on August 5, 2001, losing 15-14 in 11 innings - they also embodied the comeback spirit of baseball during the unforgettable "Refuse to Lose" season of 1995. Game 5 of the ALDS vs. the damn Yankees. Bottom of the 11th, 2 on, down by 1 run...well, why don't you just go here and click on "Martinez's historic ALDS Game 5 double" and see for yourself.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Happy Anniversary! (To Me)

So today is our one year anniversary! It's crazy really...I can't believe it has been a whole year. Seemed like it flew by...even though everything was new and we made a lot of memories...well, guess I just shot my own theory to hell. But I would just like to take a moment and say that I am so happily married to the most beautiful and incredible woman in the entire world and I love her to death. We just got back from spending a long weekend out in Palm Springs. It was really nice to get away for a few days and just relax. It was 114 out there and we loved it. We spent Saturday at Knotts Soak City water park, and went out to a couple nice dinners. Now it's back to the grind for a few weeks, then we are moving to a new apartment on the 28th (can't wait) and I just found out I'll be flying to Boston for a conference on the 29th. I'll get back on the 3rd and then we'll fly out the following weekend to Coeur d'Alene for a week. Then it will be back to normal for about a month before we head to Israel. Guess it's shaping up to be a busy summer.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

On Time

Praeteritum enim iam non est et futurum nondum est.

"For the past is not now, and the future is not yet."
- St. Augustine from Confessions

And so I begin my foray into the world of blogging: with an explanation of my blog's title and a few thoughts on time. St. Augustine devoted the second half of book 11 from Confessions to the pursuit of understanding the concept of time and memory. "What then is time?" He asks, "If no one asks me, I know, if I want to explain it to someone who asks, I do not know. " To drastically boil down an intriguing piece of writing, it seems that Augustine argues the philosophical doctrine known as presentism - essentially that "Neither that which will be, nor that which is past, exists now." He delves into such mysteries of how we can measure something that is continually passing, what constitutes a "long time" and a "short time", what roles our memories have, and what God was doing before He created the world. I've always found the concept of time rather fascinating - as Augustine noted, it seems simple until you have to think about or explain it. We measure it by the movement of heavenly bodies, calendar pages, and watch hands. We feel it's effects. But what is it? The passage of time is unstoppable. It marches on with astounding regularity. And yet it can seem so subjective! Why is it that virtually every human (including myself) can attest that their years seem to grow terribly shorter the older they get? All that remains of the past is our memories, and memories seem to consist primarily of lives highs, lows, and new experiences. Surely our youth flew by in our business, but in retrospect we view those years as being much longer than the ones today. Is that because everything was new and we created so many memories? As we settle in to the routine of a responsible working adult with all our plans in place, do we cease to make as many memories, and thus time speeds up? Like Augustine, I must admit that I find both comfort and infinitely more mystery in the fact that God exists beyond these limitations that He created. Spe enim salui facti sumus et promissa tua per patientiam expectamus. "By hope we are saved, through patience we wait for your promises."

So what does any of this rambling have to do with anything - especially the title of my new blog? For that I must give credit to my friend, Jack Freeman. He penned the simplest of profound statements in the refrain of the song The Here and Now:
"Why, if life is lived between big plans, do I sit with idle, folded hands? Life aint lived when you're thinking about what's around the bend - the here and now is your only chance to make a difference in the end."
I am the king of living between big plans. I'm the Grand Potentate of the Procrastinator's Partnership Worldwide. Okay, so no such organization exists, but if anyone ever got around to starting it, I would be the Grand Potentate. And I am not alone. Nearly everyone, to one degree or another, seems to glory in the memories of the past and elaborate on the plans of the future; all the while forgetting that what really matters is what they are doing now - at that exact, precise moment. Because neither of the other things they speak of even exist.