The National Pastime is once again in full swing (if you live in the U.S.A.), and the true fan of baseball is the contemplative, who has a super-discursive appreciation for the “game.” Ergo, I present this metaphysical reflection on the meaning of baseball…
Baseball is ritual. Ritual relies on rules. Within the rules there is an opportunity for transcendence. As the fan sits there with a beer in his hand he can witness the limitations of his finite life temporarily suspended, as he sees the trajectory of a tiny ball sail over the confining wall, and he stands up and says, “OUTTA HERE.” Did I say that the purpose of ritual is to create an opportunity for transcendence? A home run is a clear affirmation of a human being’s desire for transcendence. So now you see the inner-theological relevance of baseball, for God IS pure transcendence; God is the Eternal Grand slam! Every home run is an affirmation of our desire for ultimate meaning, transcending time and place, towards a mystery we can access only through faith and love. Get in the game.
References: Aristotle on Baseball. I once had a professor at Notre Dame who wrote a paper, “A Metaphysical Delineation on the Importance of Poetry,” so I have borrowed from his title.
Practice tip: If you’re spending a lot of time watching baseball games on TV, listening to the over-analysis of balls and strikes that goes on today, try praying the Rosary as you watch the game. You can easily pray and meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary while keeping an eye on the game at the same time. Five decades of the Rosary will only take a few innings, so give the Rosary your primary attention for those innings. This practice of praying the Rosary while you watch the game will pay many spiritual dividends for you.
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Tom, do you recall Ernie Harwell reciting a poem on the first day of the season? I don’t remember what it is, but it was something about spring and it seemed to have a religious tone. (Note to everyone else — Ernie was the Tigers’ radio broadcaster for many years.)
Here’s part of Ernie’s poem…
“Baseball is just a game, as simple as a ball and bat, yet as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes. A sport, a business and sometimes almost even a religion.”