I helped with my son’s baseball practice over the weekend. I may have learned more than he did. The coach focused almost entirely on defense and the rules, and I learned more in half an hour than I have in years. Obviously being an American does not mean you are born with a genetic understanding of baseball. It’s taken me 43 years to finally understand when you have to tag the runner and when you can simply touch the base.
And of course, as is often the case, the more I understand about something the more I appreciate the abilities of those who play the game. Circumstances can change in an instant, bringing new rules into play, and they have to not only know how that can happen, but be paying attention to know when it has. Baseball can seem like such a slow game to the viewer, and yet fortunes can change in a flash. It only looks slow. Even during–perhaps even especially during–the times when there isn’t much going on there is actually a lot going on. I’ve written about this before.
There’s certainly more thinking going on than the uneducated might suspect. And moments of courage. I got to be a base-runner during the practice as the coach ran specific scenarios over and over. I did a lot of running to third with the ball being hit right to the shortstop. I had no choice. I had to run and hope for the best. I felt reasonably safe in assuming the shortstop wouldn’t have control of the ball before I passed by him, but he could still throw to the third baseman–with me in the way, helmet-less, and much taller then either of them. I managed to not get beaned.
I have to admit I wish I could go back a few years (and then some) and play baseball on a team for a season. I think I’d be able to enjoy it now.