Friday, October 22, 2010

Time to give some thoughts on the game

My friend Ash says that time does not exist. He's British of Indian decent who grew up with a religious father well-versed in Eastern philosophy. We met at the best dive bar in the world that happens to be in Beirut owned and operated by a Lebanese guy who is as equally in touch with his spiritual side and has become a dear friend of mine.

What Ash means by that is that time is a concept that measures the movement of celestial bodies that we use to gauge the aging process. He doesn't put it that way, that's my own simplified explanation, but he's right. Time is a product of our minds, nothing more. Of course, most people can't wrap their heads around that notion because it is so ingrained and let's face it, most people don't spend much time reflecting on abstract concepts as they go through the motions of their daily lives. It's a shame, really, because there is so much more to existence than birth, childhood, schooling, marriage, death. Few people question the notions that are part of their perceptions of "reality."

Take, for example, the idea of space. Not Star Wars space, but physical space, like distance (which is part of the time/rate equation.) I am physically sitting in a room in Washington DC. I am trying my best to be mentally here, but I lack focus and discipline and my thoughts seem to be stuck somewhere across the ocean. It is quite possible that our minds and spirits are separate entities from our bodies. There's a reason people use the term "whole" to describe various states of happiness. If someone is physically, mentally, and spiritually all in the same place at the same time, he is most likely to be happy.

In the past, I experienced baseball with my full being, but this year has been a little different. I felt distant from the game. I thought I lost my faith in the great religion of baseball. But there was a moment last night as I watched the Phillies-Giants game when I was fully into it, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Nothing in particular had happened in the game at that moment, but I felt the excitement surge through me, like I had been transported back to days past.

It reminded me of how the notion of time is an inherent part of baseball. Nostalgia is as much a part of the game as what is actually going on on the field. In no other sport do we speak with revelry about players who died a hundred years ago. In no other sport do we argue with such passion about the criteria for entering a Hall of Fame. For many of us, we are raised on baseball, so as adults the game is inseparable from our childhood memories, and indeed, as parents we try to instill the love of the game in our children and dream that they, too, will do the same for our grandchildren.

In baseball, there is no separation between the past, present, and future. The game cannot exist in one phase of time without the other two, so there really is no time in baseball. Just look at how it is measured - in 9 innings, not with a clock (although we'd love to see fewer commercials and shorter games.) These games will go down in history books and talked about fondly (or for fans of the losers, with heartache) just like all the other post season games.

I'm sure there was a point to all this rambling when I started it. Oh well, bring on the game! Go [insert team playing Bankee$]!