Play Ball!

What is it about this sport
that fascinates me so,
when the best a player can do
is end up back where he began?

Why do I accept as a worthy goal
the ability to run in circles—
or have I been fooled
because the powers that be
have given those rounds sharp corners
rotated them 45 degrees
and dubbed them diamonds?

How is it that I have become mesmerized,
spending hours each day
for 162 days
glued to a screen
just so I can watch
the most accomplished of these athletes
come up empty
seven times out of ten?

Am I addicted to the rewards
(and to the frustrations
that drive up their value),
bringing my pan to the river’s edge
and sifting through all the walks,
foul tips and errors,
the pop-ups and routine ground balls
for the sake of turning up
one glittering, precious nugget:
that scorched line drive
towering homerun
swan-diving catch
or picture-perfect double play
that makes all the time invested
worth my while?

Or is it that I wish we could approach
more of life
with the perspective we bring
into the ballpark—
celebrating with wild abandon
the successes of those we care about,
accepting periodic failure
as just one element in a complex equation,
and knowing there will always be
another inning
another game
or, worst case, another spring
wherein we once again will have
the opportunity
to knock one out of the park
or sacrifice ourselves
so that a teammate may advance?

© 2011
Alexis Spencer-Byers


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