Breaking routines and cracking bats.
By Elizabeth Cutright
Yesterday, I stood on the edge of a baseball field, hot wind blowing fat, rainy clouds across the stadium seats. The green sod, springy and fleshy, spread out before me, off limits to spectators. We stood near the dugout, feet absentmindedly grinding into the gritty clay.
Old habits die hard.
I played softball in high school, though not particularly well. I always loved the feel of my cleats tapping on the locker room tile as we footed out to practice. I had an old mitt that had served my cousin through several years of little league, and the leather was soft and flexible.
It had a pocket like a dream.
I played the game for the friendships though I also enjoyed the analytics involved. Whenever I was set out in centerfield, I loved calling out the plays…” runner on first, throw to second”…” remember to hit the cutoff”…” two strikes and three balls.”
Sometimes I think it’d be nice if we had a base coach in real life. Sometimes, we could all use a heads up, a ready cutoff man, a chance at a fly ball.
I’m in the middle of a business trip, and as is usually the case when I travel, my mind is on all the things I’ve left on “pause” back home. The beautiful thing about visiting another city is that chance to break from routine and give it all a rest. A few days shaking hands and learning the latest industry news, and suddenly I feel empowered and ready to tackle all those mundane items on my “to do” lists.
Spending time somewhere else also frees up the mind and helps you contemplate different scenarios or solidify the need for particular outcomes. There’s nothing like a rolly-bag and a boarding pass to put it all in perspective.
Yesterday while we surveyed the diamond, the old ball players amongst us itching for a run around the bases, I was reminded of the movie Bull Durham. In that film, there’s a point where the team is road weary and in need of a break. They lament the probability of a rainout of the next day’s game as they stare up at a cloudless evening sky.
The catcher, played by Kevin Costner, is the old pro on the team, and he promises that if it’s a rainout they want, he can deliver.
In the next scene, we see the players sneak onto the field, and as they whoop it up under the stars, Costner’s character turns on the sprinklers, flooding the turf and effectively canceling the game.
As I felt a few fat raindrops land onto face, I thought about that manufactured rain out. It made me realize that while Mother Nature is pretty dependable, sometimes we have to take matters into our own hands.
Sometimes a flooded field and a cancelled game are better than a victory. Sometimes the events that seem inevitable can be displaced and dispatched with just a little innovative thinking.
And sometimes…sometimes…we just need to play a wet and sloppy game of baseball in an empty stadium under the stars.