Eternal, spring

“You see, you spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball, and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time.” – Jim Bouton

Life is a scorecard; an encrypted story in exotic-to-the-unwashed hieroglyphs, easily, quickly translated by those versed in the language. We can excitedly, precisely interpret the detailed story. The story of our life.

I’ve been told – more often than I can count – to take a walk.

I have sacrificed.

Took lots of pitches and touched all the bases. Made it to a few when I probably shouldn’t have, gotten thrown out when I tried to take an extra one…

and often experienced the thrill of sliding in safe.

I have played the field and struck out in love. My ears have echoed with the cheers of the crowd and have felt the sting of their boos.

I have made my share of errors.

There are times when I have been left stranded, others when I have been benched. I have been shelled, and pulled for a reliever who could close out what I started, could not finish.

I have made more than a few long, slow walks back to the dugout.

Ah, but the home runs have been sweetly plentiful.

I loved the game and life – and it returned the favor far more often than it could let me down. Oh, a few pennant races broke my heart – but isn’t that life in a nut shell?

I’ve had good winning streaks, taken a few tough losses to heart.

There have been brush-backs, bean balls and I’ve thrown and been thrown more than a few curves in my day.

Hurled a few biting changeups of my own, too. Others will tell you there are times when I’ve been a real screwball.

Sometimes I’ve had to play hardball. I have usually won.

I have been thrown out, tagged out, shut out.

I have balked.

I have loved the game – my life – it has returned the favor.
Now, the grass is greener than ever, lush and rich; the sky is always a vivid blue. In my mind I can always I feel the breeze on my face, breathe in the aroma of oiled, old leather, hear the distant crack of solid horsehide colliding with polished ash.

Someday I’ll be rounding third and headed for home, with someone waving me on. I’ll know then as I do now that it’s been a grand and glorious event, an extra-innings affair to remember; a ninth-inning grand slam.

Walk-off win.

It’s hopefully a long time before I need to come out of the game, many years before I’ll need a curtain call to acknowledge the home crowd, tip my hat and then disappear, headed for the clubhouse to hang up my gear for the last time.

Not now, not today.

It is spring again.

Hope, potential, promise fill the air, a game has yet to be lost.

A long, blissful summer awaits. There will be highlights and losing streaks, rainouts and glorious days you’ll hope will not end. For now, the joy is in simply taking the field again.

As Ernie Banks always says, “It’s a great day to play two!”

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2017
http://lrd.to/sxh9jntSbd

World Serious

In the game of baseball, a great hitter will often explain his success at hitting a thrown ball three inches in diameter with a round bat a quarter-inch smaller around saying “I slow the game down” – some even claiming that they can actually see the red stitched laces as the baseballpitchball hurdles toward them at ninety-plus miles per hour: less than half-a-second elapses from the time the ball leaves the pitchers hand until it crosses home plate.

I slow life down.

Even with the break-neck pace of modern, middle-age life – family, teaching, church, a kid in college, everything else – I see the world with more clarity now than I ever did before, slowing it down to a montage I can take in, dissect, make contact with.

I have not lost bat speed and can still turn on a pitch.

Clearly now I see the laces on the ball as it flutters toward me, bifocals be damned. And I basebalslomocrush the ball with far more consistency than I ever did in my twenties or thirties. I am at the stage of life where the pitcher, my nemesis, often thinks he should be able to sneak one by me – high heat, inside. Often as not I make him pay for such arrogance.

That is not to say every at bat yields a home run.

My percentage of life extra-base hits outpaces that of youth: doubles off the outfield wall, triples down the line or in the gap are more routine than the easy single. Touching all the bases, I can still run like hell and usually beat the throw. I stretch singles into extra base hits with far more regularity…just because I can.

slidingintpsecondHold me to a single and I’ll simply steal second. Pick me off? I dare you to try.

The baseball idols of my youth saw, as most athletes do, a slippage in abilities signaling the twilight of their careers. Some were able to compensate be honing other skills, or relying more on pure guile. Some didn’t know when to walk away, and were lessened in the eyes of many.

Retire, walk away to accolades or boos. Or adapt, and thrive.

harmonkillebrew1969I can still turn on the fastball. Better than ever, in fact. Want to try to cross me up with off-speed junk? Good luck with that. Doesn’t really matter where you throw it. I have what a baseball scout would call ‘great plate coverage’.

Oh yeah, I can still hit the curve.harmonkillebrew1971

Bring it.

Your best stuff. Whatever you’ve got. Fresh arms from the bullpen? Not a problem. I can send them back to the dugout, too.

Want to try an intimidating brush-back? I’ll step back in, eventually making you pay, smiling with a wink and a tip of the cap your way as I round the bases. Hey, that’s the way it works. Mutual respect amongst opponents. I will win more than I lose.

Life is a great metaphor for baseball.oldbaseballlaces

Every day is a great day to play two.

“Play life.”

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2016
http://lrd.to/sxh9jntSbd

World Serious

In the game of baseball, a great hitter will often explain his success at hitting a thrown ball three inches in diameter with a round bat a quarter-inch smaller around saying “I slow the game down” – some even claiming that they can actually see the red stitched laces as the baseballpitchball hurdles toward them at ninety-plus miles per hour: less than half-a-second elapses from the time the ball leaves the pitchers hand until it crosses home plate.

I slow life down.

Even with the break-neck pace of modern, middle-age life – family, teaching, church, a kid in college, everything else – I see the world with more clarity now than I ever did before, slowing it down to a montage I can take in, dissect, make contact with.

I have not lost bat speed and can still turn on a pitch.

Clearly now I see the laces on the ball as it flutters toward me, bifocals be damned. And I basebalslomocrush the ball with far more consistency than I ever did in my twenties or thirties. I am at the stage of life where the pitcher, my nemesis, often thinks he should be able to sneak one by me – high heat, inside. Often as not I make him pay for such arrogance.

That is not to say every at bat yields a home run.

My percentage of life extra-base hits outpaces that of youth: doubles off the outfield wall, triples down the line or in the gap are more routine than the easy single. Touching all the bases, I can still run like hell and usually beat the throw. I stretch singles into extra base hits with far more regularity…just because I can.

slidingintpsecondHold me to a single and I’ll simply steal second. Pick me off? I dare you to try.

The baseball idols of my youth saw, as most athletes do, a slippage in abilities signaling the twilight of their careers. Some were able to compensate be honing other skills, or relying more on pure guile. Some didn’t know when to walk away, and were lessened in the eyes of many.

Retire, walk away to accolades or boos. Or adapt, and thrive.

harmonkillebrew1969I can still turn on the fastball. Better than ever, in fact. Want to try to cross me up with off-speed junk? Good luck with that. Doesn’t really matter where you throw it. I have what a baseball scout would call ‘great plate coverage’.

Oh yeah, I can still hit the curve.harmonkillebrew1971

Bring it.

Your best stuff. Whatever you’ve got. Fresh arms from the bullpen? Not a problem. I can send them back to the dugout, too.

Want to try an intimidating brush-back? I’ll step back in, eventually making you pay, smiling with a wink and a tip of the cap your way as I round the bases. Hey, that’s the way it works. Mutual respect amongst opponents. I will win more than I lose.

Life is a great metaphor for baseball.oldbaseballlaces

Every day is a great day to play two.

“Play life.”

– Mark L. Lucker
© 2016
http://lrd.to/sxh9jntSbd