swing, batter!

swing, batter!

“It’s a good thing the snack bar takes sticky quarters.” –unknown child to his confederates in the bleachers last week


I

t’s no secret that I don’t love baseball.

From the deliberate pace of the game to the endless circling of the snack bar by players and spectators alike (“Can I have a slushie/hot dog/hamburger/anything from the snack bar?”), there isn’t all that much there there in my experience. Throw in the wind and grit peculiar to our part of the country and you have described two hours that I’d like to spend anywhere but watching a Little League game.

“At least when it was machine pitch the kids were hitting something,” I overheard one mother hiss to another last week. “Now nothing happens.”

Well, not exactly.

The demands of this game—the combination of cooperation and consistent individual performance—seem to be holding Roy accountable in a new way. A discouraging stint on the pitcher’s mound gave us the chance to talk about service and the meaning of failure in a working context that Roy has actively wrestled with in the games that have followed. He has pitched three times since and not once has he lobbied to leave the mound again when he felt like he might be underperforming. And he would appear to actually be improving, just one more lesson in the rewards inherent in persistence.

I’ve come to think that watching baseball really is a little like watching grass grow, just not in a bad way. You have to be patient when you’re planting something. It’s not like it’s going to start shooting out of the ground just to hold your mercurial, flickering 21st century interest. Changes are happening out of sight, slowly. Oh, you’ll see them, but hold your horses already, because how many substantive improvements or sea changes or tomatoes, for that matter, have you seen brought into being during the run-time of a sitcom?

So I get it: baseball requires patience on everyone’s part. What I am only beginning to appreciate is what might be cultivated over the course of a season rather than a single game.