The Culture of Baseball
Players dress alike from their cleats, to their hats and everything in between, for they are a team, united in purpose. Each individual has a role to play, and if they succeed at playing their role well, it effects the whole team. One for all and all for one, but each one competing for a spot on the field, not on the bench. They play with heart and soul, strength, and endurance, patience and tenacity. They are an obedient brood: when the coach yells “SLIDE!”, they slide. When he directs them to “Bunt” they resist the urge to blast one out into center field, and they bunt.
Coaches of baseball must have nerves of steal, for it is a game of strategy, and the techniques major on minutiae. Every detail matters from the position of the feet, to the timing of the swing, to the turning of the head. It all matters, and one little change up to the left or right can be all the difference between a home run hit and a fly out at short.The coaches have their signals that can be intricate and complicated motions to tell their player a one word command such as “Steal”, or “Bunt”. It is indeed another language that the players must learn, and follow or risk the wrath of the team and coaches for not knowing the signal and falling short of the team plan.
Spectators know the ins and outs of each player’s strengths. They watch and cheer and critique the players and coach’s every move, for they know the game. They enjoy the food, for in the culture of baseball, there are definite foods to be expected in the concessions stand. Hot dogs and popcorn, pizza, and soft pretzels with mustard, candy bars and nachos are the stuff good concessions stands will always serve. Soda and slushies are the favorite drinks. There are children who come and are out with their mitts trying to catch the foul ball. Others just run up and down the stands getting the next slushie or bag of popcorn.
There are statisticians who keep track of every success or failure down to the strike or error. There are umpires, announcers on the field, who have perfected their own signature announcements of “STRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIKE” and “BAALLLLLLs”, and “YOu’re OUT!!”s. There are box seat announcers who dramatically inform the crowd of the last play and who’s to come, and entertain with songs that everyone knows the words to.
There’s a love for baseball that lives in the heart of America. It’s a sport of teamwork and tradition and guts. The Babe Ruths and Jackie Robinsons of yesterday inspire the youth of today to play hard, work hard, and let the love of the game propel them to excellence both on and off the field. That’s the beauty of the effect of baseball…on a good day, the player takes what he’s learned on the field and in the day in day out practice, and applies it to doing their best off the field and in life. The culture of this microcosm of baseball can be a great influence on a kid going from ‘showing up’ to truly growing up. Players learns to sacrifice their agenda for the team, and learn the value of working hard. And the great thing is, that working hard makes playing hard all the more fun. After all, baseball, in its purest form, was just a game that was intended to be fun. Period.
So bring on the popcorn and baseball and mitts and hot dogs and bats and dirty uniforms. And you moms of baseball players, bring on the ibuprofen and ice packs and laundry detergent with bleach.Baseball season can now extend late into the Fall when it is 32 degrees outside and the parents of the “boys of summer” are freezing with their blankets on the bleachers. Yes, tomorrow at our house will be another Saturday of waking up at 6 a.m. to begin a day of more of this beloved sport of baseball. And this mom has taken this time to remind herself of the reasons why this beloved sport is beloved. Because when it is late on a Friday night and the weather forecast for the morning is 29 degrees, this mom might just prefer to sleep in on a Saturday…but will follow the lead of her disciplined son and sacrifice for the good of the team. Go Post 82!