Justice is not reducible to obeying the law. Baseball embodies this duality.
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It encourages deference to judicial authority by enshrining judgment behind the plate the official rules state: "No player, manager, coach or substitute shall object to any such judgment decisions [on the part of an umpire]" ; but it also, by the unwritten rules, tolerates a fair bit of raucous questioning of authority. It doesn't permit civil disobedience no game could — and it's a serious question whether any polity should , but it does put up with obedient incivility.
Hurling invective at "His Umps" readies one for bad Supreme Court decisions. One thing an umpire does not control is the clock. There is no clock in baseball. Busy middle-school parents sometimes steer their boys away from trying out for baseball because of this. You just keep playing.
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The parents of young soccer players love ties — it's so much gentler on the psyche with no winners and losers. Games played on the clock suit the hectic pace of modern life: Dash to the game where the kids dash around for an hour then dash to the next lesson or appointment. Baseball, though, insists upon its own internal rhythm; innings are infinitely variable a side might bat around or it might be three up, three down. Fascinatingly, one of the dictionary definitions for "inning" is "an opportunity for action or accomplishment.
An inning is a timeless, alternate world of human agency.
Other evidence of the unbounded character of human aspiration in baseball is that the foul lines are not absolute. In the rectangular games, out-of-bounds means out-of-bounds. Nothing of significance other than injury I suppose can occur there. In baseball, by contrast, foul balls on the fly are playable. Fielders are encouraged to make stunning catches in foul territory, virtually leaping into the stands or diving into dugouts.
The same lofty ambition is possible for batters. The home run goes beyond the dimensions of the outfield, sailing over the wall and even out of the stadium altogether. The home run is out-standing. Thus, baseball rewards achievements that technically transcend the horizon of the game. In no other sport can you score outside the lines. Perhaps because the pace is slower in what other sport is a special break, the seventh-inning stretch, provided just for the spectators? George Will emphatically rejects this attempt to link baseball to an idealized earlier era, when life was supposedly unhurried.
He counters that baseball is a dynamic, high-tension game of "blazing speeds" in which the "pace of the action is relentless: There is barely enough time between pitches for all the thinking that is required.
Baseball 'Hit King' Pete Rose, 78, says his biggest regret is betting on the game and being banned
Real leisure takes one out of time and self. Baseball's exemption from the clock encourages this salutary forgetfulness. It's no wonder that baseball — along with religion and philosophy — is endangered in our profoundly this-worldly, un-contemplative time. Remember, Barzun had deprecated as vulgar and predatory those sports whose focus is solely on the ball.
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In soccer and basketball, a score results from the position of the ball in the goal, through the hoop. In football, a score can result either from the position of the ball between the goal posts or from the combined position of man and ball man with ball in end zone. In baseball, however, it is man alone who scores.
Think how often Little League coaches shout: "Don't watch the ball! In other sports, the television crawl just gives the score and the clock football adds the down and yardage count.
In baseball, the crawl includes the score, the innings tally, how many outs, how many men on base and which bases, and the pitch count a separate box often provides the stats on the batter. Those constantly changing variables must be known to each player at each moment, or he will do the wrong thing with the ball should it come to him.
Baseball is the most mindful of ball games. Because the object in baseball is not to put the ball in one fixed place the basket, the goal, the end zone but to get men "on base" and then "home," there are unique possibilities for team play.
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Most revealingly, in these other ball sports there is nothing equivalent to a sacrifice fly or sacrifice bunt, where an out can advance the runner. Of course, there is teamwork in all team sports, and young people gradually learn the value of making the pass that leads to the shot on goal. A sacrifice fly, however, conveys deeper lessons about the subordination of self than an assist does.
The cooperative virtues taught by baseball are of a higher order. Sports are often analogized to warfare. Football may teach the martial virtues of pain and discipline, but a baseball player might be more likely, upon an instant, to take the individual initiative to fall on a grenade for the sake of his buddies, so they can return home.
Moreover, the baseball diamond — with its injunction to "bring 'em home" — teaches the priority of home. Baseball knows that war, though both necessary and ennobling, is for the sake of peace. The offense in baseball is non-imperialistic in character. There is no unseemly gloating at home plate as there is in the end zone of the enemy.
Another element of baseball's greater thoughtfulness is its devotion to numbers. Of course, some of baseball's stats are useful in a managerial sense, but many others are just for the fun of it. They further pure theoretical understanding. They are a great boon to teachers as well — what pizza is to simple fractions, the batting average not to mention the earned-run average is to more advanced calculations. Because baseball is a game of statistics, it is a game of "records" and the record book.
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Baseball's Pythagoreans are also historians. Just check out the Baseball Records Committee of the Society for American Baseball Research, for whom records are made not to be broken but to be discovered, catalogued, corrected, and analyzed. Sabermetrics is an academic study that has as its goal "discovering objective knowledge about the basic principles that underlie the game. By contrast, he has heard the names of scores of old-time baseball players, has a handful of their cards, and has read books about legendary figures who died well before he was born.
Baseball lengthens memory. By encouraging reverence, baseball goes against the dangerous democratic tendency to forget the past and celebrate the new. Democracy is precarious because it so often undercuts its own moral underpinnings. Paradoxically or not, it turns out that conservative virtues are needed to sustain the democratic experiment.
Baseball shows the way: It has a constitutional soul that secures the future by preserving the past. If there has been anything positive about the steroid scandal in baseball, it is the talk of asterisks in the record books. I suspect that a youngster who has read a biography of Lou Gehrig would be disposed to respond to James Madison and the other stars of the nation's founding Triple-A team.
To put a somewhat more partisan spin on the matter: A youngster who mentally puts an asterisk next to Barry Bonds in deference to Hank Aaron should be predisposed to set aside the dishonest distortions of the "Living Constitution" school of interpretation and opt for an originalist approach. Along with mathematics and history, there is a related discipline for which baseball constitutes a preparation: the art of storytelling. From the point of view of the spectator, many of the superiorities of the game culminate in the uniqueness of baseball's scorekeeping.
No other sport offers the same level of participation to its fans. It's also worthy of note that women are prominent in the scorekeeping ranks. Soccer moms provide transportation and snacks, but in Little League, it's usually a mom who is entrusted with the official scorebook. In the mind, if not on the field, there is gender equity in baseball.
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When I was six, my father gave me a bright-red scorebook that opened my heart to the game of baseball. After dinner on long summer nights, he would sit beside me in our small enclosed porch to hear my account of the day's Brooklyn Dodger game. Night after night he taught me the odd collection of symbols, numbers, and letters that enable a baseball lover to record every action of the game Scorekeeping is a form of translation; the action is translated into symbols which can then be translated into a narrative.
A child introduced to scorekeeping is primed to greet documents and texts of all kinds — whether natural or man made — with enthusiasm. From the fossil record to voting records, from the songs of grasshoppers to the dialogues of Plato, there are esoteric meanings and truths to be puzzled out. Goodwin had a good teacher in the art of reading between the lines:.
My father pointed to the second inning, where Jackie Robinson had hit a single and then stolen second. There was excitement in his voice. That's the impact Robinson makes, game after game. Isn't he something? I too was taught by my dad to keep score. While my parents worked in the yard, gardening and building stone terraces, I sat at the picnic table taking down the Twins game from the radio. Note: Citations are based on reference standards. However, formatting rules can vary widely between applications and fields of interest or study.
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