Existentialism and the Baltimore Oriole

June 12, 2007 |

If you’re a neurotic, East Coast Jewish guy like me how can you not like Melvin Mora?  I mean here’s a guy who yesterday asks his manager for a day off because he needs to clear his head. Claims he’s "messed up… mentally."

http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/baseball/bal-sp.osnotes11jun11,0,7475986.story?coll=bal-sports-headlines

Meanwhile, a couple of weeks ago he gets angry at that same manager because he was never told beforehand that he wasn’t starting that day.  He claims he and his manager are having "communication problems".  This is great stuff Melvin!  Clearly you’re conflicted and in pain.  We need to help you get in touch with your inner third baseman. 

Foolish me, I always believed that baseball players were, by and large, a fairly shallow lot. Just a bunch of fun loving, tobacco chewing jocks whose deepest thoughts involved when to steal a base or how many Hooters waitresses to take home that night.   Alas, here comes Melvin Mora, a guy who’s got so much heavy emotional baggage he asks for a day off so he can "figure it all out".   I think I’ll give him the name of my therapist.  Clearly he’s in crisis.

In fact, Mora’s dilemma might apply to half the team.  Perhaps they’re all suffering from existential angst.  The reason Mora, Gibbons,
Patterson, Huff et al can’t seem to get a base hit is because every time they step into the batter’s box their thoughts turn to the ultimate futility of hitting a baseball.

I mean, if you think about it, hitting a baseball successfully is something the best hitters do only about 1 out of every 3 times.  I mean, what’s the point?  Why even bother coming to the plate if you know that, more than likely, you’re going to fail?  Why even bother to put on a uniform? 

And that’s just for starters.

What about the fact that we’re all going to die?  Or that, eventually, our sun will go supernova and obliterate all the planets in the solar system.  Or worse.  If you believe Al Gore, in roughly fifty years global warming is going to turn Camden Yards into an undersea habitat for rock fish and crabs so why get all worked up about winning a stupid baseball game, right?  I mean, jeez, why would anyone care whether or not he’s going to see a curve ball or a slider with stuff like that swirling around the brain?

Trust me Melvin.  I deal with this stuff all the time.  I’m a writer and sometimes writing can take your mind to really dark plaes. So let me offer this advice.  Stay within the moment, pal.  Yes bad things DO happen to good baseball players but, regardless of the fact that
ultimately life is futile, just think of the joy you bring us all when you drive a ball into the gap in left-center field.  Revel in the smiles you’ll see after a walk off homerun.  It’s these little things in life that make it worth living. 

Oh, and rent the movie "Harold and Maude".  When I’m feeling lost and hopeless, that movie does it for me. Oh, and here’s one other idea you might want to try…

EXTRA BATTING PRACTICE!

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