Baseball, Contemplation, and the Christian Life

I read an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal this past week. The basic theme of it is how much standing around happens in a normal baseball game. According to the WSJ calculations, nearly 18 minutes of activity happens in one 3-hour baseball game. What is also surprising is that an NFL football game has only 11 minutes of activity in a full-length game.

Those who find baseball boring use studies like these to justify their thoughts. There appears to be a lot of standing around in baseball, can it even be called a sport?

I love baseball. I’m actually watching the Brewers lose a game against the Diamondbacks as I write this post. I obviously choose to enjoy the game of baseball. I’ve played it off and on over the course of my life. I find the plot of the baseball season a great way to connect with friends. Because I know the game, I find the small things about it (even the things that happen when people are standing around) to be intriguing.

Most binaries that we create to make an observation (much like the binary made in this article) are not helpful. To claim that a sport is not interesting because it doesn’t have much activity is purely preference. For instance, I loathe NASCAR, perhaps the most stimulating and action-filled sport ever. However, if I flip on a NASCAR race, I mutter negative comments about it under my breath (like, “All they do is make left turns for a few hours…”) as I fall asleep. NASCAR has not captured me, therefore, I question the value of it as a sports fan.

Baseball, even with its out of proportion inactivity, creates a lot of measurements. There are so many acronyms for stats and figures in baseball that it is hilarious to have someone try to figure out what they mean. One of my favorite things about baseball is to listen to Buster Olney’s ESPN Baseball Tonight podcast where he brings on guests whose profession is to keep track of the different measurements for the sport. It is fascinating to find the trends, irregularities, and “stories” that emerge from these numbers. If you’ve seen the movie Moneyball, you’d have to agree that there is a mad science behind putting together a group of players on a baseball team.

Simply put, the large portion of inactivity in Baseball creates the pregnant, full moments of activity that we see. The inactivity is equally as important as the activity. Decisions are made, reports and studies are scanned, and strategy happens in those inactive moments. That inactivity makes the game of baseball brilliant.

The Christian life is similar. One of the fascinating things that I get to work with in my profession is to help Christians see the potential in every moment, that every bush burns, that the mundane is what we were made for (along with the extraordinary). Our culture craves to be constantly stimulated. Such a life is not real, it is unhealthy and dangerous. We need to learn to be still, to rest, so that when the activity rushes into our lives, we can appreciate it, see it, relish it, and live to tell of it.

Be still.

Keep interesting stats of your life.

Appreciate the mundane.

Allow the slowness of life to seize you.

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