Bit By The Bug Again

by Rich on April 30, 2018

While I don’t recommend it, I must admit that I learned something this past week while suffering with the flu. I don’t recommend the flu, that is. I do recommend learning things, although that whole “ignorance is bliss” thing can be pretty attractive at times, but I digress.

For the better part of three days, I lay almost comatose on the couch, with virtually no energy to do anything other than ache and cough. I didn’t even have the energy to focus on one of the eleventybillion Netflix shows that I’m supposed to be keeping up with. But I also needed something going in the background to drown out the sounds of the mowers and cars and dogs that were determined to keep my head pounding. So I scrolled around searching for something that was long, familiar and peaceful enough that I could tune in and out of without getting lost, and something that wouldn’t demand my attention or consciousness. I settled on “Baseball”, the magnum opus masterpiece by Ken Burns.

I remember when this groundbreaking docu-series first aired back in the ’90s. It was fascinating. It still is. And incredibly well done. Now available online, it has been updated, post 9/11, to include the modern era, PEDs and all. And as I lay in my feverish state, half asleep and half living dead, I was reminded how spectacular this effort in film making really is. And the more I watched it, the less it became background noise. Each era reintroduced me to the magic of the game. And that may be it’s greatest accomplishment…it’s ability to draw the viewer in emotionally. And that’s when I learned something.

The number of columns I have written detailing my relationship with baseball could fill a nice sized filing cabinet. The game is one that I enjoy, but also one that I have not given myself over to as I’ve gotten older. The faster games of football and basketball, the immediacy of streaming video, and all other forms of on-demand entertainment, have shuffled baseball to the back end of the line, where it sits, patiently plugging along. But re-watching Ken Burns’ film, I began to realize that I missed it. Not playing it, or even going to the games, but just the game in general.

Baseball requires certain attributes that many of us have lost these days. Patience. Consistency. Sacrifice. These are qualities that get lost in our modern age, and I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. I knew it too. But I didn’t know until this past week why I missed it and why I am determined to pay more attention to it. Because committing myself to a discipline like baseball has value in and of itself. Like making the decision to shop for natural ingredients and cooking homemade meals is healthy for my body, or like setting aside Facebook and Twitter for the slower, methodical aspect of a good book is healthy for my mind, eschewing the instant gratification of Netflix or Amazon for the more natural, organic pace of play found in baseball is healthy for my soul.

No, deciding to watch more baseball isn’t going to add to heavenly enlightenment, make me smarter, or help me live longer. But I am certain that it will add to my inner peace and quality of life, just like good food and good books do. Baseball is one of those goods in life, worth making the effort for. And I am determined to make that effort.

And hopefully I won’t need the flu to remind me.



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