I’ll admit it. I’m kind of a baseball geek. Not necessarily the Bill James/Sabermetric statistics sort, but I love the history, its place in pop culture, the long slog of the season, the deliberate pace of the game. Remember that old George Carlin football vs. baseball bit he used to do? Well in my book every point tipped the scale in favor of baseball. (Not that football doesn’t have its place, but that’s a post for another time perhaps).
And maybe it’s just because I work in an industry where to create good things takes a fair amount of time, but one of the things I like best about baseball is that even when we celebrate an immediate result – a walk-off home run to win the game perhaps – the ultimate success won’t be judged until the full 162-game season is complete.
And even when a player has a break-out season, their place in history won’t be determined until we have the benefit of a complete career with which to judge it.
Other sports may be more tailor-made to the TV-generation, but for somebody who spends their days deliberately moving around rocks and positioning stones, I can appreciate the time it takes to methodically work towards becoming successful. Just as many homeowners expect a landscaping project to be knocked out in just a weekend a la HGTV, I get that most people expect their sports to deliver shorter schedules, more action, set times.
When we build a patio, the results aren’t always immediately visible as we begin work. There’s always a point – usually about ¼ way through the project – where the yard has been torn apart and it looks far worse than it did when we started. But slowly the order returns as the base prep is installed and the stones are moved into place. And the homeowner and neighbors soon begin to see what we’ve been creating. And the excitement begins to mount as the client looks forward to using the finished product.
Likewise, in baseball there are certainly moments where it looks like nothing is going to happen. But all of a sudden the pitcher begins to tire. A batter is walked. An outfielder can’t chase down a fly ball. A base is stolen. Now the tension is mounting. Every pitch means something. Every look to first base has added consequences. Every step the infielder takes in one direction or the other could have spectacular or drastic impact.
I often hear people say how boring they think baseball is. I can’t argue with opinions, but to me it’s all of the subtlety that makes it such a fantastic game. One of my favorite sayings is “The devil is in the details”, and baseball is ripe with details.
As is a good landscape project. Subtle plantings here. An edge detail on the stone coping there. A playful yard ornament there. Those small details are ultimately what makes or break the interest level.
And baseball is not just a sport, it's a game. Like chess. Or poker. Full of strategy, and small moves that could determine the outcome. Other sports may be more action-packed, may exhibit more physical ability – John Kruk once famously told a fan that he was a ballplayer, not an athlete when she questioned him about his physique – but baseball is a game of moves and strategy.
When I think of some of my favorite outdoor places, I think of sites with large grand trees that have taken hundreds of years to grow. I think of well-established gardens where the plants have pleasantly filled out the spaces they are
allotted. I think of mossy stone walls that took time to be built by hand, slowly and laboriously, and have taken
even longer to get weathered and worn. It’s that sense of knowing what it took to make things happen that makes
them such wonderful places at all.
And with baseball, when the playoff teams face off in October, and the TV networks roll out their “A”-list broadcasters and special effect packages to showcase to the casual viewer, I know many of the causal sportsfans will tune in, -- many not having watched a single regular season game all year, -- some out of sincere interest, some out of a sense of duty.
And when the patio is complete, I know the homeowners will invite over their friends and family to celebrate, and many will be unaware of the hard work that went into creating it.
I’ll just be the guy watching both processes unfold from the get-go.
Play Ball! Happy Baseball Season everyone! And Happy Spring!