Strike Three

Posted: May 31, 2010 in people
Tags: , , , , ,

“Strike thee,” called out the umpire, jerking his hand up, and with that the star player for the San Diego Padres was out, done, over. The hope for runs was flew up into the lights like a mist — there and gone in the cool San Diego evening air.

The San Diego fans went totally loud with booing, yelling, grieving,  resisting. It was wild and western, and I was glad to be at the ball park to see the fun.

Andrian Gonzales turned to the ump, protested the call, got in his face, wouldn’t let it be. Buddy Black came to the plate. He joined Adrian against the ump.

The umpire threw Adrian out of the game. Then he threw Black out of the game.

The stadium went berserk; the crowd metamorphized into a huge, loud angry mass of protest. The ump was wrong. We were right. If he could have, the umpire probably would have thrown us out. We were also in his face to long. But play resumed shortly and we remained.

While the Padres were up, every ball got a cheer; every strike against one of the Padres got a boo. 

 The ump was right when he made calls for our team; he was wrong when he made a call against our team, even if it was right. It became semi-comical! The game took on a kind of silly, goofy feel, the ball and strike calls more the focus than the action of the players. It was like the game turned into a argument between the spectators and the umpire.

I kind of got into it. It was a new plot for the evening,  a baseball drama, and we, the crowd had now taken the field.  We had seen an injustice of a minor sort, and we were making our dissatisfaction known.

The game played out and ended. We had our say but it changed nothing. The umpire strolled off the field. I thought he looked a little lonely.

It was interesting, as I reflected on it later, how in the disagreement emotions seemed to have taken over the player, the manager, the umpire and the crowd.

Baseball, Chevrolet, apple pie and a rowel at the plate — it was about as American as you can get. We don’t see things the same here. We even love to disagree. And when we do, we do so as a stampeding herd with instinctive, stomping, running momentum. But the game ended, and we separated to our own homes to squabble with each other. 

The next time I went to a Padre game, we didn’t carry on where we left off. Were these different fan? Was this a different umpire? Who could tell, but what had been a big deal had been forgotten.

This all seems very familiar to me. I think I’ve seen this before, differences in perception, difference about “the call” that was made. I’ve seen this in my marriage, in my education, at my job, with my friends, in my church.

A few thoughts come to mind about the good old American past-time of not getting along. Despite the plays and calls that are made, the game goes on and so does the fun, except maybe for the umpires. But who knows, perhaps the umpire at my crazy game had fun too, not so much that night, but jawing about it later with his peers, reminiscing and saying, “I remember the night in San Diego when I thought …”  And the others nodding and laughing and throwing in, “You should have seen my night in ….” 

So what’s in this for us, say if we apply the whole event to life. Well, I think that people in power may tend to throw people under them out too easily when they disagree. It’s not so good. It can give the people watching an ulcer and rough up everyone’s psyches on a perfectly good evening.  On the other hand, I think we players should  try not to be so stupidly rude and stubborn when we disagree that we get thrown out. It’s boring to sit out a perfectly good game in the locker room.

And finally, if we look around with any degree of objectivity, we are likely to observe that our own emotional reactions of disagreement, and those of others, at the ball park or in the bedroom , are apt to be surprisingly comic, even sometimes ridiculous.

In conflict, I think we may need to do what doesn’t always come easy but would make things easier, that is to keep having fun and to keep laughing, especially at ourselves

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