When I was younger, my attention span was far too small for slow, ponderous activities such as baseball.
But these days I’m always looking for another excuse to stop what I’m doing and slow down for a while.
That’s what I love about baseball, and why I shudder with horror anytime I hear someone talk about speeding up the game.
It’s true, baseball games can drag on and on.
And maybe it’s true they drag on longer than they used to in glory days.
But for me, baseball is supposed to make things drag on. Baseball is about finding a way to make a summer afternoon hang on for infinity.
I like baseball’s deliberate pace. And I think we can learn a lot from it.
I think a lot about the advancement of technology, about how I hold a computer in the palm of my hand that can zap my thoughts and ideas across the globe in a matter of seconds.
How letters that might have taken weeks to be delivered in the past are now instantaneous.
We turn on the television for instant gratification when we are bored.
We mindlessly thumb our Facebook or Twitter feeds.
We wake up, rush around like there isn’t enough time in our lives to do the things we are allotted to do, then we come home and blink and it’s already time for sleep.
I’ve always hated the expression, “I need to turn off my brain for a while.”
I get the meaning, but we only get so many years to use these meat machines. I don’t want to turn mine off anytime soon.
We “turn off” the moments of our lives until there are none left.
But baseball teaches us to do the opposite of these things.
In baseball, you must always wait.
You wait on the catcher to make the call, the pitcher to select a pitch, you wait as the ball hangs in the air over the outfielders with plenty of time to wonder, “Will he catch it?”
A pitcher may throw nine pitches in an inning. He may throw 50.
There’s no time clock on the scoreboard, no metric that says when this amount of time has been reached, this game is over.
Baseball is only over when the players have earned a win or had it stolen from them.
A team might rally from behind in the ninth with two outs, with all the drama of the entire game hanging on every pitch.
And you, the fan, must sit and watch and take in all the moments of joy and dread in their entirety.
And this is a lesson I try to remember in my day to day life. It’s one of the many reasons I want my son to play baseball.
Pay attention. Slow down. Be present for the pain. Be present for the joy.
The other reason I want my son to play baseball is its life lesson is unlike any other sport: Sometimes you will lose. Actually, most of the time you will lose. But the times you win can make all the difference.
Baseball games are played in a series. A team can lose a game but still win the series.
Batters strike out. But they also hit game-ending home runs.
Pitchers give up hits, but they can still record the win.
So don’t speed up the game.
And don’t speed up your life. Take in the moments. All of them.