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14th of June, 2021



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Life Skills

When an american sees something on the ground, he picks it up and throws it.

A european kicks it.

When an american has a stick in his hand, he hits something with it.

A european throws it for his dog.

There is a special skill set that belongs to americans. I know this, because I was at baseball practice in Germany tonight. It’s not genetically specific, it’s just a matter of habit.

I’ve heard, and to a lesser extent experienced, that when you catch a fly ball, you solve over 50 differential equations. You must place your glove in the exact spot that a ball, spinning 1000 times per minute and travelling at 90 feet per second, will land that starts its journey 250 feet away from you at, often enough, a random azimuth.

You do all of this with fuzzy logic.

Here’s fuzzy logic:
Ball (with bat): *Ping*

You: Shit, I’m not even close to where that thing is going to land. I shall run in the rough direction that ball is headed.

Ball: Whoosh.

You: Correction; I shall veer a little to the left in order to intercept that ball’s course in relation to my own.

Ball: *Falling...*

You: Shit, I’m about 3.1 meters away from the ball, which shall hit the ground and make me look like an ass.

Ball: Ha! I shall win this contest between object reality and man!

You: The hell you will! I shall dive and catch the ball, proving once and for all that man is superior to inert horsehair and cowhide, and thereby receive the affirmation of my peers!

You dive. Perhaps you catch the ball, and if so, good on ya, mate.

The point is, you tried to catch the ball. It was important to you. It was a brief juxtaposition of wills, yours against the batters against the pitchers. There’s nothing more rewarding than catching a fly ball that should’ve been a hit off a pitch that should’Ve been a strikeout. It’s the human drama, cubed.

I love baseball. But there’s an assumption that goes along with baseball that escapes some people. It’s like the assumption among ice hockey players that everyone can skate. Catching a ball isn’t easy. But, with enough practice, it’s the most trivial thing in the world, like ice skating. Hitting a ball is just as hard, and also just as easy: Just leave the bat on your shoulder, wait for the pitch, and then just...hate the ball. The ball comes at you, threatening you and your family. The ball is your enemy at this moment, and you need it as far away as possible. Don’t think about leaving your hands back, or rotating your hips at the right moment. These things will fall into place as soon as you accept that you have an aluminum club in your hands and there’s a baseball in front of you that’s bent on world domination. This ball is a terrorist, and needs to be taught a lesson or two. Stay relaxed, confident. Let the bat sit on your shoulder, level and potent. Keep your eye on the ball as it comes toward you, tighten your grip, and then with speed, speed, speed, let the ball meet Mr. Bat. Swing through the ball as if it wasn’t even your target.

When you hit a ball on the ‘sweet spot’ of the bat, you don’t even feel that you’ve hit it. You just get the satisfaction of the sound (*ping!*), and the second or two to watch the ball fly, repentant, to the outfielders who will outsmart it just as I’ve outlined it before. It’s the genius of the game, as complex as science in its simplicity. It’s the minimalistic beauty that turns the smearing of filth on a piece of cloth into The Last Supper, or the Mona Lisa.

It is truth, and beauty, and it is as much an american value as the Garden of Earthly Delight is a Dutch Masterpiece. It is the culmination, the satisfaction of a million thoughts that you’ve performed so often they become as language. A laugh, a joke, an exclamation. These are human things, and the best of things.

God, I love baseball.



an american probably wouldn't think "Shit, I'm about 3.1 meters away from the ball, which shall hit the ground and make me look like an ass. " we would probably think in terms of feet :-P


In terms of feet?

"Shit. I'm about 3.1 meters away from the ball, which shall hit the ground and make me look like feet."

I do not, how you say, get eet. ;-)

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