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Baseball and God....an attempt to combine the two

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by Sneed, Mar 1, 2009.

  1. Sneed

    Sneed Guest

    I write a weekly Christian column for a couple of community papers here, and last week I tried to combine an aspect of baseball with part of what Christianity's all about. I post it here with a bit of hesitation, but I honestly want some feedback on this one. How could I have done it better?

    It is written for a Christian audience, but I'm not putting it here to start discussing beliefs or anything. I just want to know how I could have better executed it, because I feel like it's just not quite....right. My editor at that paper usually doesn't have time to give me a ton of feedback, and I'm doing this a lot as a favor to him as much as for myself, but like I said twice already, I want to know how I could make this better.

    The pitcher goes into his windup, and the batter goes from waiting to preparing. The batter’s hands drift and lift slightly back and slightly up and his front foot takes a small step as the ball is slung towards the catcher’s mitt, which is where the pitcher would prefer it strike, rather than the barrel of the batter’s bat.

    It’s spinning, spinning, and now dipping. It’s a slider, running away from the right-hander at the plate, who has already committed. He’s stretching, his weight carrying over his front knee, his head moving forward with his outstretching hands, which sends the bat barrel flying toward the fleeing baseball.

    And, contact.

    The ball collides with bat at the bat’s furthest endpoint, right off the cap. The bat cracks, split down the barrel, rendered unusable by the flailing swing’s resulting contact. The batter cusses himself as he sprints toward first and watches the ball head toward the incoming second baseman with as much force and power as a dandelion against a brick wall.

    The second baseman scoops the ball up in his glove and tosses it 40 feet to the first baseman. The batter crosses the bag two steps too late, way out, once again.

    He trots down the dugout steps to teammates clapping him on the back and saying, “Don’t worry about it man, just get ‘im next time.” But the batter fears next time will be the same as this time, which was the same as last time. He fears leaving the lineup not by choice, but by necessity when he is deemed by his coach too unproductive to justify not giving someone else on the roster a shot at playing.

    He fears failure, the failure all say baseball is a game of, the failure that paralyzes him.

    He passes the coach in the dugout, who says again, “You’re lunging at the ball. Stop lunging.”

    Lunging. It’s a term the ballplayer knows all too well and a curse he can’t seem to shake. For baseball is a game of curses the same way it’s a game of failure. But there’s no voodoo behind it or witches flying invisibly above the ball field jinxing his legs into undesirable exercises.

    No, “lunging” is baseball terminology for the batter jumping at the ball thrown by the pitcher, a curse born of a hitter’s trepidation.

    To hit well in baseball, a hitter must instead “sit back” – that is, wait as long as possible, not transferring any body weight forward but instead staying firm in his balance. When a hitter lunges at a ball, it’s usually because he’s tense – he’s either unsure of himself or way too sure of himself. He either gets extremely afraid of missing the pitch, or extremely anxious to hit it. Whatever emotion he’s experiencing, the physical result of the mental process almost always ends with a slow, unbalanced swing that creates, well, a dandelion hurtling toward bricks.

    Why do ballplayers do this? If sitting back and waiting is all they need to do, why don’t they do it?

    Often, guys can crush the ball during batting practice. In batting practice they can get into a rhythm, they can, as one guy on my team likes to say, “Let it flow.”

    But get in an actual game, it’s way too easy to get way too tense, because in a game there’s more riding on your at-bat. There’s nothing to lose in BP, but in a game, sometimes it feels as there’s everything to lose. And the more guys fail – get out – the more they lose trust in their swing.

    Hitting a baseball has been called the single hardest thing to do in all of sports. The higher the level, the harder it gets, the better – and shorter, and quicker – your swing has to be. The only way to make it shorter and quicker is to perfect your mechanics….oh, I won’t go into detail. The long and the short of it is, your swing has to be as loose as it can be to be as quick as it can be. Lunging makes you tight, makes you long, makes you slow.

    Why do ballplayers do it?

    They don’t trust their quick hands or natural strength or eyes enough. They feel some need to overcompensate, without even realizing they feel it.
    The ballplayer returns home to a gorgeous girl and two beaming kids.

    “How’d you do at work today, Daddy?”

    It was another rough day. But he can make it back to the ballfield, to another day of baseball curses and failure, tomorrow because he knows tomorrow, failures or not, he returns each night to this blessed household.

    As for how baseball players can snap those lunging slumps, the details are not for this column. But in short, it’s all about trust.

    And as for our baseball player, he returns home to that blessed household because years ago he learned to wait on God. He made his mistakes. He failed in life and love and sin and everything else at some point because he rushed life, he rushed plans, he wanted to do what he wanted to do without asking for God’s help in doing it.

    But he learned. He realized that waiting on God – not lunging at life – works.
  2. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    I think part of it is you spend the whole column going through the at-bat, explaining what lunging is, and then drop this on the reader at the end:

    It just feels like it negates the whole column on some level.
    Plus, you spent way too much of the column going through the baseball half of it. You probably should have tied it up with the Christian aspect sooner.
  3. Sneed

    Sneed Guest

    Yeah, I agree. I think this was one of my main contentions with myself on it.
  4. albert77

    albert77 Well-Known Member

    This is a very well-written piece, Sneed, but I think you've nailed why it doesn't work for the publication in question. It's almost like the religious part is an, "oh, by the way," sort of thing, just thrown in at the end as an afterthought.

    I think you could have fixed this simply by moving the idea in the last graf up to the lede. Something like this:

    Sometimes – in baseball, in life – it's a matter of waiting. Waiting on a pitch, waiting on God.

    Then you go into the whole description of the pitch and everything that follows just like you wrote it with that as your framework.
  5. Sneed

    Sneed Guest

    I kinda like this idea. Feels like what I couldn't quite find while working on it. Guess I'll try to give myself more time next time....I think I procrastinated a little too long on this baby....

    Thank you for your input there, albert.
  6. Dan Hickling

    Dan Hickling Member

    I was left wondering about the depth of the hitter's relationship with God...how aware of His presence he is, whether in the midst of a slump or a hot streak...
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