It’s spring time in America, and that means many changes: the blossoming of flowers, the end of the school year, the lightening of work hours for some. But one thing that sticks out as particularly relevant to this time of year is the way in which baseball ties perfectly into the everyday fabric of America. While baseball’s popularity has indeed extended overseas, there is still something to be said for how it particularly captures the American spirit. To capture this particular idea, here is a list of four ways baseball is a perfect metaphor for life.
What happens at the beginning might have no relevance at the end
Baseball season is 162 games long, twice as long as that of hockey and basketball, which both clock in at second longest at 81 games each. Over the years, there have been countless instances of teams who struggled in the beginning only to turn it around and win later. It’s like life in that way. It doesn’t always matter where you come from, but it matters where you go. And, and the end of the year, hopefully where you go is in the positive direction.
Even the best achievers fail–a lot
Hitting a baseball is hard. When the MLB All-Star game rolls around in July, most of the players that represent the best of the league are the ones who hit for a .300 average, which means they succeed at their goal only three out of every 10 times. These players know that in order to be the best at what they do, they will have to be prepared to fail about seventy percent of the time, at least. But they don’t get discouraged by those odds. Just like in life, they are willing to take a swing at whatever opportunity comes their way, knowing that, when they do succeed, that’s all people will remember.
It’s a team sport with people of multiple specialties coming together
In baseball, pitchers can’t hit, and hitters can’t hit. People might play first base because they can’t throw but they can catch (like me), and others might be sent to the outfield because they are fast and have quick instincts and good eyesight. And still more become catchers because they are short, squat, smart, and have qualities of a leader. But what they all do together is figure out what their roles are, how to do their roles well, and how to support each other in their roles. Other sports might have this separation of duties, but not to the degree that baseball does, and, by the commutative property, not to the degree life does.
It contains anomalies
In his book Moneyball, finance author Michael Lewis relates the story of how Oakland A’s General Manager Billie Bean managed to game the system of baseball using statistics and information, which ultimately resulted in his underpaid team of misfits winning 20 games in a row, which is tied for third longest win streak of all-time. The purpose of relating this is to show how, even when you think you’ve seen it all in baseball, with 162 games containing about 120 pitches by each team each game, and 16 games going on at all times, out-liers and statistical rarities seem to happen more often than elsewhere. In the vein of the quote, “If you give a room of a hundred monkeys a bunch of typewriters and all of eternity, eventually one of them will write Hamlet,” in baseball, and in life, everything might be governed by what is most likely to happen, but it doesn’t necessarily limit itself to that. On any given day, you probably will encounter something you’ve never seen before.
Featured photo credit: Minda Haas Kuhlmann via flickr.com