Opening Day Delayed: Care for Your Roses

While there’s no baseball, please, care for your roses. (via Nasreen Fynewever)

Today was supposed to be Opening Day. It is not. I had written my annual column. And yet, it will not run. In it, I wrote about the cheating scandal and how that might change how we feel about the start of the season. I wrote about how my team — the Reds —was trying to win, and how good that felt. And I wrote about the return to the daily rhythms of baseball.

And all of that, now, is moot. Unless it isn’t.

We have to think about what baseball is to us. Why it matters. Why we’re upset it’s gone.

In The Order of Time, physicist Carlo Rovelli explains that the world we exist in is a collection of events, not of things. Or, as he more eloquently says, “The world is made up of networks of kisses, not of stones.”

Moments are rarely created by a single person. This is doubly true in baseball. Each kiss, each hit, each cheer that makes up our existence is the result of countless previous kisses and hits and cheers. This moment — this terrifying disruption in what we expect — is no kiss. It’s something else. A storm, maybe. It’s going to do damage. It’s going to hurt. Only a very small part of that hurt will be from the absence of baseball.

In The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, there is a chapter in which the Prince is talking to a fox. The fox wants the Prince to tame him.

“What does tamed mean?”

“It’s something that’s been too often neglected. It means ‘to create ties’…”

“If you come at four in the afternoon, I’ll begin to be happy by three. The closer it gets to four, the happier I’ll feel. By four I’ll be all excited and worried; I’ll discover what it costs to be happy! But if you come at any old time, I’ll never know when I should prepare my heart…There must be rites.”

Baseball has tamed us all. It comes at the same time every year. We hear its footsteps moving across the green field. It is part of our rhythm. Its coming is a rite.

But for everyone, it’s not just baseball that’s tamed us. There are other things we cherish and look forward to. Most importantly, there are people we’ve tamed and who have tamed us.

The Little Prince, as is well known, has a flower. A rose. And when he is talking to the fox, he says, “There’s a flower…I think she’s tamed me…”

I have to be careful, or I’ll end up quoting the entire chapter. Yes, baseball has tamed us. Baseball also will return. In some ways, the Little Prince learns better about the value of his rose by being away from it, by understanding what it means to lose the rite and the ritual.

But again, there are other things — other people — that have tamed us. And so, we put baseball on hold. We hole up together and take responsibility for our roses. Because, as the fox says, “You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed.”

A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

For all of us, baseball has become a vital part of the networks of our existence. We come back to it day after day and year after year, and now here we each are, brought by countless moments to the special rite of Opening Day. Ready, regardless of which team we follow, to add to the makeup of our world on a day that is both a continuation and a beginning.

We create meaning within ourselves and within the baseball season by repetition. By showing up over and over again. To tame and to be tamed. What does baseball do for us, if not that? For fans and for players, this matters. It does. It matters deeply. But other things matter, as well. And a delay in moment is no sacrifice when it can preserve infinite and priceless moments in other parts of our lives. For now, we can only control ourselves and our own earnestness, and we must do our best for those other roses that have tamed us.

Baseball will return. But, in the meantime, care for your roses.

Jason teaches high school English, writes fiction, runs a small writing program and writes about education and literature. He also writes for Redleg Nation and both writes and edits for The Hardball Times. Follow him on Twitter @JasonLinden, visit his website or email him here.
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Greg Simonsmember
4 years ago

Terrific article, Jason.