I love baseball. I always knew I loved baseball, but the delayed season this year really showed me how much I loved baseball by how much I missed it. Part of the way I coped with missing my favorite game was by finally watching the IFC show “Brockmire”. Quick synopsis, it is a comedy about a fallen from grace baseball announcer returning to the game after a decade away coping with failure in very unhealthy manner. It really scratches some die-hard baseball fan itches while being quite funny.
To the point though, in the second season of Brockmire (Hank Azaria) has a conversation with JK Simmons character about trying to find faith while the former is a recovering addict and the latter is on their deathbed. Neither had any connection to formal religion but realize that they found a sort of “lived religion” in the game of baseball (I highly suggest the book “Lived Religion: Faith and Practice in Everyday Life” by Meredith McGuire if this topic sounds interesting). Of the beliefs these two “baseball men” formulate this faith structure, there are three moments that really resonated with me:
- The sacred space of a ballpark
- A belief that we should be judged by the actions we take
- Humility is a crucial part of life, as we are all going to fail all the time
The first one is personal to me as sports have always been a large aspect of my life, whether it be as a player or a fan. The sacred space of a field is where I learned how to be the person I am today. Whether it be from coaches, teammates, or opponents are all things that I learned on a diamond, gridiron and pitch from people who lived lives far different from mine, have made fields sacred to who I am as a person. The other two beliefs that Brockmire discusses are two of the most important lessons that I learned on a field. Being judged on our actions is not a unique concept to sport. However, sport reflects this harsh lesson in very tangible ways. If you do not follow through on actions, whether it be training hard, practicing well, studying the game, or executing when required, you lose. You get beat. Someone who did all those things better, got the success takes your spot. You have to try again the next year, the next game, the next day, the next action. Which leads to the lesson on failure. No matter how hard we try and act, sometimes you are not going to execute, and you are going to fail, because you are human and not perfect. It was not until recently that I realized how much I appreciated this lesson. As we advance in our lives, we are going to fail, but the good news is this happens to everyone. Being able to understand that failure, and learn from it without letting it break me, or let me quit is the single most lesson that I have learned in life, and it is because of failing over and over and over again in a children’s game.
As we navigate 2020 and beyond, let us take a bit of the “baseball god” with us into our lives. Find the sacred spaces that let you learn who you are and what your place is in the world. Understand that our actions are crucial to that place in the world. However, we will fall short of this expectation we have for our place, it is inevitable, but how we recover and learn from that failure is of the utmost importance. And finally, other people are going to fail sometimes too, it is our job as fellow failures to be there to support them and help them learn from our collective failure, so that in the end we can make the actions we desire, and fulfill our place in the world.