There’s a familiar quote from a French philosopher named Jaques Barzun, “whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball…”
The second half of the quote is usually left off. It goes, “…the rules and realities of the game and do it by watching first some high-school or small-town teams.”
I think we play games because it’s a safe place to explore. The rules are mostly clear. The outcomes are definitive.
“The heart and mind of America.” The great national pastime. Common ground. A common language. Shared experience.
“The rules and realities of the game.” Everything is economics. How do we succeed and how do we fail? What are the rewards? The consequences?
Between the heart, the mind, the rules and the realities, it’s all in there. A baseball junkie in the course of a week finds money, power, math, geography, demography, race, culture, psychology, politics and office politics, fame, medicine (how else would we know about the oblique?). Media…in the paper, on the radio, on TV, on the internet.
And to see it at the high school level, at the low minor league level, it reminds you that it’s a game. And a game reveals something to us about ourselves but is not ourselves. And that it’s supposed to be fun. It is fun.