The sport of baseball is just like life. Conversely, the sport of life is just like baseball. Things that happen on the “diamond” are things you will encounter in your own life. The same is true in many other sports, but to me, a nine-inning baseball game really mirrors a 24 hour day in the life of an ordinary person.
In the midst of a pandemic, I also see and hear things every day that reminds me of baseball. So I thought I would share some of those parallels between baseball and the last 3 months of COVID 19.
Before I begin, let me make something clear: this isn’t a political rant with an endorsement for one belief or another. Don’t read into anything. It’s all about baseball.
A baseball player has already gone through a demanding nine-inning game and battled their opponent pretty fiercely. But at the end of those nine innings, the score is tied, and they head into extra innings.
When COVID first hit, many Americans were working hard and were full of anxiety. Maybe we weren’t quite in the ninth inning, (maybe we were in the fifth or the sixth inning). But it sure felt like we were heading into the tenth inning. We were about to embark on some long days and stressful nights. The whole country went into “extra innings”.
Caught in a Run Down
Or as my sisters and I would call it when we were kids…this is a “pickle”. It is where a runner gets caught up between bases. Maybe he/she was a little too aggressive and tried to take an extra-base, but the defense was on top of things and hindered that advance. Now the runners caught up in the middle, and they have to run back-and-forth until they either touch the base first or get tagged out.
I think many of us felt like we were in the situation during the first month of COVID. Many of us were glad that we were home with our family, but we were longing to get back to our routine. Some of us got to spend more time with our loved ones, but we were always worrying about the next paycheck. The country, and the world for that matter, is still caught in a rundown. I’m seeing it more now as we start to re-open and ease up on restrictions. Some are like the aggressive runner, and just dive right in with no mask and no care in the world. Others are like a conservative runner, and they wear a mask everywhere and are trying to be as cautious as possible
Hit and Run
There is a runner on first and he gets the sign from the third base coach to take off towards second base. At the same time, the hitter gets a sign to make contact at all costs. The strategy behind this is if the batter gets a hit, the runner will be able to advance another 90 feet and get a free base. In other situations, the person fielding the ball gets nervous and makes a mistake trying to speed up the play.
To me, working remotely is very similar to a hit-and-run. The runner, at least for the first few steps, is running into the dark and running blindly. As the runner, you feel a bit helpless but you need to keep moving forward. You have a job to do and people are relying on you. The whole country is moving towards second base blindly right now. There is a level of anxiety and fear in all of us. But for many of us, we also know that moving forward with the trust in those around you is the only way to go. We HAVE to move forward. We WILL move forward. We’re just hoping the rest of the team does their job and gives us proper guidance and protects us.
Hit the Cut-Off Man
This is usually when a ball is hit to the outfield and there are runners on base. The outfielder quickly scoops up the ball and instead of throwing directly to the base, they hit the cut-off man (or the relay man). The cut-off man is an easier target, as he/she is closer and it is usually a shorter and more accurate throw. The cut-off man catches the ball and quickly throws it to the base to get the lead runner.
In many parts of life, we know we can bypass the cut-off man. And many times in baseball, the outfielder knows that too. But what we THINK we know, and what actually happens, can be two different things. It’s a tough political climate right now, and many experts are yelling at us to throw the ball to two or three different bases. During this pandemic, many Americans are willing to hit the cut-off man. They want to break that long throw down into a couple of shorter throws. That’s the phased approach we are in right now. Are you wearing a mask when you leave the house? Are you trying to stay 6 feet away from others? If so, you’re hitting the cut-off man. If you’re jumping into the deep end with both feet willing to deal with the consequences of those actions, you’re trying to throw past the cut-off man. That’s our country right now.
Those are just a few examples of how baseball is just like life.
And by the way, I’m really glad baseball is coming back. It’s been a long summer without you. This country needs you to put on a show.
You usually come through “in the clutch”.
Be safe out there.
Chris Hardie – Waynesburg, Pennsylvania
Cross Country Coach and Lifelong Baseball Fan