Do you remember those posters that were all the rage –– for about a minute –– many years ago; the ones that at first glance were just a bunch of dots, shapes, or lines, but if you stared at them a certain way, the hidden picture appeared? They’re called “stereograms.” Some people were able to see the hidden image right off the bat; some people couldn’t gaze enough in the right way in order to be able to see beyond the dots. How much of life is like that? We’re surrounded by all manner of colored dots in our lives, and if we just stare at them in a different way, they can reveal a whole new reality to us.
I’m not really a monster baseball fan –– nor a super-huge sports fan in general –– but I do like a good series; a seven-gamer in the NBA Finals; the best four rounds of golf at the Masters; a best of seven in the Stanley Cup; best two out of three in volleyball; the World Series. There is definitely a thrill to watching a win-or-lose, one-game competition, and sure, each game in a series is, in itself, a win-or-lose game, but I’ve always been more attracted to watching a series. I’ve never really thought about why. I was thinking about the World Series this morning, and if all sports series were a bunch of dots, I’ve just stared at them a different way –– and something new appeared.
I learned that the reason I like a series so much is that win or lose, the team or player gets a chance to come back tomorrow to give it another try. The course is the same, the uniforms are the same, the players are the same, the stakes are the same; everything is the same –– or almost the same –– yet a loss doesn’t necessarily have to mean game-over. A team can try the same thing three different days and lose, and then they can do the same –– or nearly the same –– thing the next four days and win the series. It’s the same in golf, you can play the same course three days and not be in the lead, but come back on day four and do everything better and walk away a winner.
“It’s never over ‘til it’s over,” is so much truer in a series than in a one game contest. If only life could be that way. If only we could be like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day and be given a chance to live our day differently; have a different outcome; do things better; or even do things the same way and enjoy a different outcome. In a series, you can wake up and try it again –– at least a few more times –– in the hopes of getting the win.
Maybe you’ve seen that “hidden image” of a series before, and I’m the guy who was staring at the dots forever without seeing what everybody else saw, but, alas, I finally got it: My attraction to watching a series is based in some deep-seeded desire to be given a chance to take the field a few times, armed with the same assets, the same leadership, the same win-or-lose mentality, until I get it right. Life doesn’t give us the chance at a game two, let alone a game seven, but the World Series does.
I’m a Dodgers fan. I’m certainly not watching the World Series in order to root for my team; I’m watching it because, strangely, it satisfies my desire to try again. Imagine losing, losing, losing, and still having a chance to win it all.
With those thoughts in mind, here are a few baseball movie quotes (and a Groundhog Day quote for good measure):
“Juuuuust a bit outside.” Bob Uecker in Major League
“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.” James Earl Jones in Field of Dreams
“You’re killing me, Smalls!” Patrick Renna in The Sandlot
“There’s no crying in baseball!” Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own
“I was in the Virgin Islands once. I met a girl. We ate lobster, drank pina coladas. At sunset, we made love like sea otters. That was a pretty good day. Why couldn’t I get that day over and over and over?” Bill Murray in Groundhog Day