Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Relentless Pace of Baseball

Game 59: Bulls 1, Red Sox 2
Season: 37-22
Wrap, Box, Indy Week Story

I can’t really improve on Adam Sobsey’s story about last night’s game over in the Indy Week blog, so I’d like to talk about something that’s been rattling around in my head for quite a while — the sheer day-to-day relentlessness of professional baseball.

Last night was the Durham Bulls’ 59th game. They started the season on April 9th. That means that for all practical purposes they’ve played a ball game every day for two months. In that time they’ve had one rain out and two days off. They have 85 games to go.

Think about it. Every. Single. Day. Every day you go to the park, practice, change to a game uniform, warm up some more, and then stand out in front of the dugout to listen to the National Anthem. You play ball for at least a couple of hours, sometimes much more than that. Clean up. Go to your room/apartment/house. And the next day it’s the same thing all over again. And the next day. And the next day.

Then throw in the travel from place to place, the small and large differences in location, weather, playing position, etc.

Day after day after day.

For some reason the relentless nature of the game didn’t settle in for me until I first bought season tickets. In that first season, about six or seven days into an eight-day home stand I began to fill up on the game. Sure, a lot of little things changed every day, that’s what makes the game so interesting and beautiful. But still I sometimes wanted to take a break, and I could (and do). But not the players. For the players it is every single day.

Let’s not forget the manager, coaches, broadcasters, equipment folks, trainers, etc. The day-to-day has to be the same for them as well. In fact, looks like the only guys who don’t have quite the same grind are the starting pitchers. They are on a five-day rotation so once they pitch they can just “coast” for four days. But I bet they don’t. I bet they have almost as rigid a routine as the rest. Day one, do this; day two, do that, etc. until the next start.

On the surface it seems similar to a road production of a show. I’ve done that and this is very different. The biggest is simply once started no game is the same. After the National Anthem it really is a new ball game. My 40-man crew traveled the world. We’d set up in each location for about a week, do our thing, then go on to the next place. The difference was that my “show” was the same show, every time. Sure, a little variation in the audience, in the staging, but what we did was the same. With baseball, the general outlines are the same, “between the lines” as they say. Nevertheless, every moment is at least a little, and sometimes a lot, different. So your attention has to be that much more to the moment. In our little show I could be thinking several lines ahead as I spoke. In baseball if you’re thinking ahead more than a millisecond, you’re in trouble, because nothing is never exactly the same.

I have to respect that, a player’s ability to live inside each moment. Otherwise, I think the relentlessness of the season would take all the fun out of it, for the players and the fans.

1 comment:

  1. I agree - having season tickets brings this point home. I can't imagine the physical punishment, but then you have players like Jon Weber (don'tcha just love him!) who play virtually all YEAR long, heading to other countries in our off season to continue to play the game they love.