Sports are a beautiful thing. In both good times and bad, they have a tendency to uplift, to unite. With Baseball, it is no different. Looking at the sport, let us take a step back, evaluating why Baseball matters at large.
Our country is in a state of division. With some in a state of elation, and some utterly disappointed, are there forces within our society that have the power to unify? Before beginning to answer this question, I both acknowledge and respect the magnitude of our recent Presidential election. I understand the wide range of emotions it has elicited, and the deep despair that many members of America are currently feeling.
I by no means intend to undermine those feelings, refusing to pretend they lack depth or intensity. With that being said, enough politics, let’s talk baseball.
Baseball has the tendency to uplift. For example, the death of Jose Fernandez cataclysmically shook the baseball world. Just when it seemed as if the Marlins would stagnate at a point of despair and shock, Dee Gordon supplied his teammates and fans with one of the most magical moments the sport will ever see.
After taking a pitch from the right-side of the plate to honor his fallen friend, Gordon destroyed the very next offering, rounding the bases with his heart on his sleeve. In that moment, previously overflowing with sadness and grief, Gordon gave his city, his team, and himself a deep-rooted hope.
Dee Gordon's home run to remember Jose Fernandez was one of the most emotional baseball moments ever. https://t.co/oD2KyGxjQv
— SB Nation MLB (@SBNationMLB) September 28, 2016
Shortly thereafter, Aledmys Diaz followed suit. A dear friend of Fernandez, Diaz crushed his first career grand slam in his first game since the accident. Honoring the tragic loss of a friend, Baseball gave both Gordon and Diaz the mechanism to bring hope to a situation that previously showed no such signs. A beautiful and (mostly) just game, it seems like it has a special aspect of magic, an inspiring tendency to touch fans, players, and coaches alike.
Baseball gives children (and adults) role models. As kids, all of us looked up to at least one player from our favorite team. Luckily for parents with a love of baseball, the sport offers wonderful models for young people, perfect demonstrations of class, effort, and expression.
Not only this, but Baseball offers diverse role models, players of different ethnic and racial backgrounds. In turn, children can feel hope in the sport, regardless of their background, almost inevitably finding the ability to authentically connect with a professional ball player.
The sport invigorates imagination, supplies goals, and instills qualities in young boys and girls that will last a lifetime. With like Clayton Kershaw, David Ross, Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina, and David Ortiz (among many others), Baseball can deeply touch the lives of many at an individual level, affecting a life for the better.
Baseball repays loyalty and patience. Forgive me Cards fans, but the Cubs and their fans offer a prime example of the powers of baseball in this context. After 108 years of pure agony, defeat, and disappointment, fans were repaid in full. After a rollercoaster ride of a postseason, the sport rewarded these fans, supplying an elation and pure feeling of joy that many may never experience again.
This loyalty unites cities in both victory and defeat, and touches any person who knows what it is like to be a true fan. It supplies a sense of unity hard to replicate in most facets of everyday life and institution, a refreshing change up from the division and polarization of today’s America.
Even further, tastes of this elation, as Cardinals fans know so well, supplies reason to march forward, finding positive slivers in disappointing seasons in hopes that the fun will once again come back around.
Baseball is a beautiful, timeless distraction. Full of history and tradition, the sport has remained immune (mostly) to an ever changing social and political landscape, remaining “America’s Pastime.” It is a safe haven from the outside world, friendly confines for humanity to get away, losing themselves in a game that is here to stay.
Despite happenings in the outside world, baseball will remain, an opportunity to find solace amidst the cacophony of voices and influences that fill the nation.
Baseball is here to stay. Defined by brilliant flashes of leather, filthy breaking balls, and towering shots, the beloved pastime will remain, a healthy outlet for generations to come.
Baseball has a role. Sometimes it becomes important to remind ourselves of what makes this game special.