With your eyes.
I didn’t realize it during my career as a catcher (up through D-III college baseball), but the collision at home plate is a play of extreme imbalance. The runner has all of the advantage: sees the whole play, concentrates on where to drive his shoulder into the catcher, controls his own momentum and aim, decides how violently he will engage. The catcher, looking for the ball while attempting to “protect” a static object, the plate, becomes nothing more than a target of a calculated offensive.
This is out of balance.
So much of baseball is concerned with a well-attuned balance. Balls weighted four to three against strikes; each team with an equal number of outs at their disposal; the high wall in Fenway’s left field to counter-balance its proximity to the plate.
In the new rule forbidding the runner to target and crush the catcher, I feel the correction of an imbalance.
What does it matter, the intent? Bodies entangled, intentions intertwined, desires pressing against each other from both directions. The rule, a charming attempt to arbitrate the chaos of ambition, says “out.”
Universal self is somewhere above the rule. Universal self is aware that there are not two teams, two desires, with an official ruling between them like a wide river. Universal self sees that all is single organism, of which each player, team, logo, color, fan is a pumping organ. The outcome of the game, the ruling on the field, another organ, a lively blood vessel.
Craig Calcaterra on last night’s game:
"But then baseball happened. And baseball, no matter how much we think we know about it — no matter how much authority, earned or otherwise, we assert with respect to it — occasionally says ‘ha.’"
Should we call it, then, the universal ha?
Baseball’s only flaw is its insistence upon a winner and a loser.
"We don’t say, ‘I vow to scratch when I itch.’ It just happens, to alleviate suffering." - Paul Haller
Nor do we say, “I vow to find the seams of the baseball when I take it in my hand.”
To a question about the balance between letting go of a desire to control and maintaining motivation, the Lazy Yogi responded:
"Firstly, you may put in any effort you like to achieve anything you like in life. There is nothing wrong with that. But you have no control over what fruits arise from your efforts. That is where you must let go and surrender. Try your best and work with whatever comes as a result instead of wishing it had been another way."
Most of our insight into the hidden side of baseball suggests that randomness is omnipresent. Even the greatest player cannot control randomness. Any attempt to do so will lead to disaster. Control effort, control practice, let go and surrender.
While this is speculation on my part, it seems to me that the players who held and then lost their grip on the game—Rick Ankiel’s staggering wild pitches, Steve Sax’s and Chuck Knoblauch’s errant throws to first—suggest an imbalance, when these players couldn’t reconcile the great weight of randomness
If I’m in a slump, I ask myself for advice.
—Ichiro Suzuki (via worldyouvision)
“It’s your ball. It’s your future.”
That’s what Astros rookie shortstop Jonathan Villar’s grandmother told him every day as she pushed him out the door to go take his grounders and his cuts, regardless of the weather. From thus I surmise that she understood that there is no future, only today. Practice, zazen, is reality. The weather today is the weather today, and practice is practice, whatever day, and the only way is practice.
Shonryu Suzuki writes of the importance of difficulty in zazen. From Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind he says “those who can sit perfectly physically usually take more time to obtain the true way of Zen, the actual feeling of Zen, the marrow of Zen. But those who find great difficulties in practicing Zen will find more meaning in it.”
Villar’s grandmother, his mentor and the voice of his true nature, pushed him closer to the marrow of baseball. Now, as a major leaguer, he will engage in the next level of practice.
I watched the last few innings of the Tim Lincecum no-hitter a day later, when I knew the end result. I found pleasure in the brief absence of narrative suspense, when I could watch the process unfold without worrying about the a one-hit or no-hit future.
When the final out falls into Gregor Blanco’s glove, Lincecum looks on, raises a fist calmly. His no-hitter was complete, yet he responded just as he did in the third inning, in the seventh. Despite the construct that distinguished this final out from the others, Lincecum showed his true nature and his ability to exist within the bounds of each out. An out is an out, with no future and no past. A made out has significance only within itself. A no-hitter is a constructed idea of past and future, of accolades and artificially constructed parameters. An out is only an out, like a breath is only a breath, or a belly laugh is only a belly laugh.
Buster Posey, whose smile has already punctuated so many great Giant achievements, laughed as he broke Lincecum’s mind-practice with a big hug. A great moment, and a window into Lincecum’s nature.