Rod’s Blog

Baseball

It is that time of year again—Time for baseball. No one can describe this incredible game like Ken Burns did in his Documentary on Baseball.

“It measures just 9 inches in circumference, weighs only about 5 ounces, is made of cork wound with woolen yarn, covered with two layers of cowhide, and stitched by hand precisely 216 times.

It travels 60 feet 6 inches from the pitcher’s mound to home–and it can cover that distance at nearly 100 miles an hour. Along the way, it can be made to twist, spin, curve, wobble, rise, or fall away.

The bat is made of turned ash, less than 42 inches long, not more than 2 3/4 inches in diameter. The batter has only a few thousandths of a second to decide to hit the ball. And yet, the men who fail seven times out of ten are considered the game’s greatest heroes.

It is played everywhere. In parks and playground and prison yards. In back alleys and farmers fields. By small children and by old men. By raw amateurs and millionaire professionals. It is a leisurely game that demands blinding speed. The only game where the defense has the ball. It follows the seasons, beginning each year with the fond expectancy of springtime and ending with the hard facts of autumn.

Americans have played baseball for more than 200 years, while they conquered a continent, warred with one another and with enemies abroad, struggled over labor and civil rights and the meaning of freedom.

At the games’ heart lie mythic contradictions: a pastoral game, born in crowded cities; an exhilarating democratic sport that tolerates cheating and has excluded as many as it has included; a profoundly conservative game that sometimes manages to be years ahead of its time.

It is an American odyssey that links sons and daughters to fathers and grandfathers. And it reflects a host of age-old American tensions: between workers and owners, scandal and reform, the individual and the collective.

It is a haunted game, where each player is measured by the ghosts of those who have gone before. Most of all, it is about time and timelessness, speed and grace, failure and loss, imperishable hope, and coming home.”

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