Baseball - General

Knowing Where You Are

I was going to post this yesterday before the game, but we had so much going on, I thought it was better to wait until the off day.

Every year, I like to use Opening Day as an occasion to relate baseball back to life. This year, I’ve been thinking about this: Imagine the Reds scuffle a bit this year, finish with 85 wins and miss the playoffs. Disappointing, right? But not catastrophic. Especially for a team that figures to be good for several years. We’d forget about this year in a hurry.

Now, imagine 85 wins in 2004. The Reds were coming off a 69 win season. That would have felt huge, wouldn’t it? We’d all still remember that as a the year of light in a long run of darkness.

Context matters.

Most of us, I think, spend most of our lives sliding right around our personal .500. We go to work. We come home. We spend time with the family. It might be a nice life, but nothing spectacular is really happening. And of course, most of us have our bad runs. The terrible breakup. The time we lost our job. Sometimes those run together and there will be a string of years when it’s hard to figure out why we bother. In that context, a year of going to work and coming home to a normal dinner doesn’t sound like .500. It sounds like the World Series (and really, maybe it is, but I think most of you will see my point).

And then, of course, there’s the reverse. When you know you’ve met the right person. Your wedding. The birth of a child. Graduations. Landing the job you’ve always wanted. Moving to a new and better job. Those are your real pennant years. You remember those forever. And, in the context, those solid years get lost even if, in another time, you’d sell your soul for a solid year. For nothing going wrong.

There are going to be times this year when it won’t seem so great to be a Reds fan. Maybe now is one of those times since Ludwick just got hurt. But if you find yourself getting down about baseball, think about how good right now would have looked ten years ago.

I’ve written before that baseball is about life, and I think it is. Maybe you’ll win your personal pennant this year, and maybe right now you’re dying for just one solid year (a lot of people are). But at least, right now, you can watch a pretty good baseball team. Sometimes that doesn’t feel like much, but sometimes it’s enough to keep you going.

6 thoughts on “Knowing Where You Are

  1. Well said. Without sounding too much like I’m auditioning for a Ken Burns series, isn’t one of the reasons baseball is so great is that it is, like life, monotonous? . . . I like basketball and football as much as the next guy, but they are simply entertaining to me. Baseball is a pastime. The pace of the game is nothing if not lacking in action. In fact, action is sporadic at best. The word “routine” is used quite a bit. For me, is the moments of glory and joy in a particular game (and season) that make the monotony worthwhile. In some cases, the monotony of baseball, whether the good guys win or lose, can be a refuge from the “bad runs” in life. Perhaps the Reds being “a pretty good team” this year is the icing on the cake for many folks. I know it is for me.

  2. What a great post. It is truly important to appreciate what you have, be it in baseball or in life. Thank you.

    The abundance of life lessons that can be derived from baseball is one of the many reasons that it’s the greatest sport in the world.

  3. Those are some fine words, Jason. Words worth keeping close if you’re a Reds fan today.

  4. Quality post. I’ve only got 25 years under my belt, but for the past 5, I’ve begun to see the truth in words like these. Hopefully in another 20, I’ll be able to spend sometime looking back on words like these and noting how true they’ve grown to be.

  5. Nicely said, Jason. And here’s to hoping we can keep our heads about us and not take the high expectations of our beloved Reds and sully every last issue because it didn’t come out perfect. Redleg Nation is a way better place when people are destroying Jay Bruce for going 0-5 or Mat Latos for having a slow April. Patience shall be rewarded.

  6. This is a good team. We went through some very, very lean years here in Cincy where I dreamed of a team like this. Even if we fall short this year, this is a team that will be there and will compete all year. Then they will compete again next year. These Reds have a legit chance of winning a pennant each year for the next 2-3 years by my reckoning.

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