Baseball: Holistic Medicine for What Ails Us

Baseball season has started, perhaps a bit too early considering the weather, but I accept it with open arms. I’ve already watched two White Sox games, and both were satisfying experiences. The opener was warm and provided hope for spring, while the second was an interesting back-and-forth of limited offense because of 30-degree temperatures. Chris Sale, one of baseball’s best pitchers, showed mid-season form with his hurling on day one, while Felipe Paulino, a pitcher with whom I am less familiar, proved himself to be an efficient, effective starter in the rotation. Alejandro de Aza continued his power trend from spring training, Adam Dunn hit his first homerun, Jose Abreu proved early that he is a threat and contender for rookie of the year honors, and Paul Konerko scolded the only pitch he saw down the third base line. The Sox won both of their first games, but the experience was gratifying, even if my Sox hadn’t pulled out victories.

For me, watching two baseball games reinvigorated mental facilities that remained dormant over the winter. Watching other sports can also be fruitful, but the pace and deliberation of baseball fosters patience above all other sports. American sports enthusiasts gravitate towards football and basketball in record numbers, as baseball’s fan base is dwindling. Children used to gather on neighborhood baseball fields to play impromptu games from sun-up to sun-down. Now, we’re more inclined to notice weeds popping up on baseball diamonds, plots of land that go unused, relics of a generation where technology was not pervasive. The complaint about baseball: it’s too slow. I’ve heard it plenty of times out of plenty of mouths (the latest: Steve Kornacki this past weekend on MSNBC’s Up).

I ponder how the internet has changed our society, how Twitter has changed our journalism, how e-mail has changed our workplaces, how texting has changed our rhetoric, and how Facebook has changed our attention spans. I often conclude that technology has created an impatient American society. We expect instant access and response. Our workplaces demand multi-tasking and expediency. Frustration occurs frequently when we are forced to sit or stand for seconds without reward. More and more, I see walking zombies staring into their phones, plugging away at the device, because even walking to and fro needs to be a productive experience…no time for smiling, saying hello, or just enjoying your surroundings!

Some European countries, like Germany, are appealing to employers to NOT demand their employees attend e-mail and work-related activities AFTER work hours have concluded. The rationale: less stress on employees, healthier minds and bodies, and a happier workforce. Consider how many Americans become offended by this suggestion, even if installing such policies proves to NOT reduce productivity or profit. The American idea is hard work yields hard money…if you want to succeed, then you have to work two or three jobs, put in the 60 to 70 hours into your work week, make sure you are beating up your body beyond its capacity to stand, make sure you beat up your mind by taking on five to ten responsibilities at once, never miss a deadline, always be on time, ignore your families, never lean against a post, always attend your computer or cellphone…and don’t expect a wage increase; that’s only for the executives who work harder than the lot of you combined!

We have become a weary, impatient lot. We are trained to be impatient. Mental stress is wound into the fabric of our beings, because we are Americans. It might behoove us to endorse baseball as our national pastime once again. Try it for yourself. Sit and watch a baseball game for three or four hours. Just sit and watch. Don’t attend your cellphone. Don’t worry about work. Don’t obsess about manufactured problems. Stop thinking that you could be spending your time doing something more “productive.” Absorb the patience the game fosters. Slow down and stop stressing out. Enjoy your surroundings. Enjoy the other people about you. Enjoy the panacea of baseball.

{If you appreciated this writing and want to help support the continuation of this blog, please consider sending a donation to:

Scott C. Guffey
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Michigan City, IN 46360

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One comment

  1. Moments after I posted today’s blog, I noticed a story about Boomer Esiason chastising Mets 2B Daniel Murphy on sports radio. You see, Esiason’s problem with Murphy was that he didn’t show up to work because he was on paternity leave. According to Esiason, Murphy’s wife should have undergone a C-section so her husband could attend opening day…y’know, like a good American worker. Nevermind this is yet another case of a man advising a woman what she should do to her body, Esiason uses his position of authority to prescribe how Americans should regard our sports: as a job where athletes slave away as good Americans instead of enjoying the fruitful lessons that playing or watching a sport might grant. He perpetuates the idea that our jobs are more important than family. I’ve lost what little respect I had for Boomer Esiason. He doesn’t have a clue about the ethical role of sports in our society, and he has no authority of which to speak in my household.

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