Tag Archive: Baseball

Buddhism and Baseball

I wasn’t feeling well throughout the weekend, so I limited my activity. Fortunately, Saturday was a rainout. And although I did perform a lot of household chores, neck strain and pain limited my activity. Yesterday, was cold. Thus, I satyed quiet, stayed indoors, and completed taxes.

However, I did watch some of Major League Baseball’s opening day and weekend. Prior to the season, I had read several columnists claiming the Cubs would do no better than third in the NL Central. However, after watching the Cubs first three games, last or next to last might be apropos.

I will say it straight: It appears the 2018 Cubs got on the bus from Spring Training. They suck.

Yesterday, the Cubs started great, as they built up a 4-0 lead in the first four innings. The Rangers immediately erased that lead however, as Delino DeShields crushed a grand slam off Hammels in the bottom of the fourth, giving Texas a 5-4 lead. In the bottom of the 9th, Texas Ranger Gallo hit a double off the left field wall and after advance to third on a groundout. He scored Cubs Pedro Strop threw a wild pitch that bounced so high, it came down 47 minutes on Ms. Felcowitzh’s old Oldsmobile Wagon as she drove home from evening church.

I figured Pedro Strop got pitching advice from Carl Edwards Jr. or Yu Darvish. Darvish lit up the baseball diamond Saturday. In short, Darvish ended up throwing 75 pitches to retire eight batters, and had to be saved. According to Baseball Reference, Darvish is the fifth Cub starting pitcher to give up seven or more walks in a start, joining Tyler Chatwood, Carlos Zambrano, Jeff Samardzija, and Jake Arrieta. The Rangers’ first 10 batters of the game did not put the ball in play, which set a new record for the club.

Despite Darvish’s struggles, the Cubs led 6-5 going into the bottom of the eighth inning, when another pitcher remaking himself, Carl Edwards Jr., took over. Edwards subsequently gave up a single and a walk, before Gallo netted a three-run home run. It proved to be the game winner.

All of this was topped by Sunday’s Cardinals – Brewer game. In the first inning, Matt Carpenter doubled. Upon safely reaching second base, he stood, placed his left hand over his crotch, raised his right hand and wiggled his hips.

“What the hell was that?” I mumbled.

However, in the 7th, with two outs, Cardinals pitcher Miller got Travis Shaw to pop up into shallow left field for what should have been the final out of the inning. However, with the shift on, the ball managed to find a hole between Carpenter and Ozuna, enabling the Brewers to pull within 4-3. Yet Carpenter, for whatever reason, did not stand place his left hand over his crotch, raised his right hand and wiggle his hips.

A friend called five minutes later, “Why didn’t Carpenter dance?

“Maybe because there was no dollar bills?”

Eventually, the Brewers won in 9, sending the cards to a 1–3 start.

In Buddhism, there’s an endless cycle of suffering—we are always winning and losing the same game, somehow expecting to make progress. We spend part of our life trying to get it together, and the other part watching it fall apart. We don’t realize that if we try to gain something, we had better be ready to lose it. As soon as we have time—“I have a whole hour free”—we are losing it. We work hard to have a relationship, and then it breaks up. We come together for a holiday party, and then it’s over. We buy a new car, and the fender gets a dent.

What’s interesting is that just like baseball, life is really about the competition within ourselves. We rise to our own challenge. As I watched this weekend’s MLB games, I thought about all the things I did to get to this point, through snow and rain, heat and cold, management failure and my own.

When my time ends, maybe God will ask who won. Should He, I will say, “No one and everyone.”

steroidsDuring the fourth week in July, Ryan Braun accepted a 65-game suspension from baseball and admitted:

I am not perfect. I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions. I wish to apologize to anyone I may have disappointed. I am glad to have this matter behind me once and for all, and I cannot wait to get back to the game I love.”

Major League Baseball indicates several dozen players will be suspended over the coming weeks, including Alex Rodriguez.  Both Braun and Rodriguez are millionaires, with net worth’s of $130 and $300 million respectively. Thus, it’s highly doubtful either will be accepting unemployment insurance anytime soon.

Hall of Fame Pitcher Bob Feller once stated, “Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again. That’s the way life is, with a new game every day, and that’s the way baseball is.” But the thought that constantly gnaws at me is the “… love of the game” most expose, especially Braun, “… I cannot wait to get back to the game I love.”  It’s clear that neither player loved the game.

Almost anyone using performance-enhancing drugs does it to make the money, to get the long-term deal, to stay on the field. The decision has little to do with love; it’s basic math. No longer does a player’s performance rely solely on natural physical talent. To succeed, one must be spectacular.

If we claim to love baseball, then we must recognize steroids use is cheating. They create an unfair advantage, and this breaks ability of two teams having a fair contest. Strangely, steroid use is a federal crime.  While most state laws dictate that the sales and use of anabolic steroids, possession of steroids, or possession of steroids with intent to sell, are all classified as felonies, few states prosecute.

But why do we, as a society, as fans look the other way?  Why do professional players found abusing steroids not receive a lifetime ban like that of Pete Rose?  Why does someone using marijuana often receive a harsher prison sentence that of Mr. Braun or Rodriguez? Why do we as individuals and sports fans have so many contrary actions against those we claim to love?

Clearly, there’s no pope in Buddhism. Last I recall, Buddhism doesn’t have a big agenda on steroids where you go to Dharma talks and your teacher attempts to guilt you to stop. In truth, there are causes for all forms of suffering. And in this suffering world, there are greater injustices than Braun and Rodriguez.

Our actions go beyond laws of society. Unethical behavior involves a host problems, including actions banned in human rights, employment, health and safety, selling of defective products, and human trafficking and so on. There are no laws that cover the breaches within the confines of the human mind where lack of caring can easily become whole by simply by confessing the sin. May work in baseball but it doesn’t work that way in the real world. Trust me, I know.

Most of us have a personal double standard; we honor God, yet we tend to place greater value on profit than on well-being. And until we separate our attachment to such things, probably always will. People will puzzle over and debate this strange love and dance around steroid use. At the end of the day, each of us is responsible for our own legacy and three years from, few will care for either Braun or Rodriguez.

It’s nice to know that all things are impermanent – including Braun and Rodriguez.

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