Baseball: the better game

By Lucas Deal

Remember that scene in “Field of Dreams” when “Shoeless” Joe Jackson first shows up on Ray Kinsella’s ballfield?

It’s about 30 minutes into the movie and comes just at that point where the casual viewer is starting to get restless.

Ray can’t pay his mortgage, his wife fears they can’t pay their utilities and the best asset they have – their land – was plowed over to build an empty baseball field.

Meanwhile, Ray’s gone completely off the deep end and is certain that his corn’s talking to him and that his field is soon to be inhabited by the ghost of a retired baseball player.

“This is ludicrous,” we think to ourselves. “That Kinsella guy is all sorts of looney.”

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    But then it happens.

    Ray’s daughter, Karin, tells him there’s a man out on his field, and we all hold our breath with Ray as he walks to the front door to check. He opens the door slowly, and there stands Shoeless Joe, as real to Ray as this newspaper is to you.

    It sends a chill up my spine every time. The music starts to kick in and Ray, as genuinely shocked as you or I, slowly meanders out of his house and up to Jackson.

    Stunned, he begins an awkward conversation with his father’s idol and after a short time, Ray’s out on his homemade field hitting fungoes to Shoeless Joe.

    After a while, Shoeless Joe finishes practicing and decides to go. As he’s leaving, he turns to a still-stunned Ray and asks him, “Is this heaven?”

    “No, it’s Iowa,” Ray sheepishly responds.

    Shoeless Joe shrugs and turns to walk away muttering, “Iowa? I could have sworn this was heaven.”

    It’s a corny scene, come to think of it – so is the entire movie – but it’s so touching, so genuine and so pure that you can’t help but feel something.

    Baseball is like that.

    For as long as I can remember, I’ve lived the game. I eat it, I drink it, everything. There’s something about the purity and fluidity of the game itself that’s left me mesmerized for years. Even now, in the 21st century when steroids and pine tar continue to smear the game I love so much, my feelings continue to remain true.

    There’s a beauty in it we just don’t see in other sports.

    Football may be more physically demanding and basketball may require better athletes, but baseball is the better game. It’s so much more elegant.

    Players rely on their mind – not just their physical gifts – to be successful. They rely on more precision, meticulous preparation and efficiency than athletic ability, power or stamina.

    When players thrive, their success resonates and motivates teammates more than any other sport. It’s an individual game but a team sport. It brings out the best in competition. In the words of Terrence Mann, “It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again.”

    When it’s pretty, it’s poetry. But even when it’s not, it is still beautiful. From the crack of the bat to the pop of the glove. From the sweet smell of the grass to the bitter dust of the infield. There’s something about baseball that other sports can’t equal.

    A lazy bounce pass skips out of bounds like a rock, but a lazy fly ball floats like a feather in the breeze.

    It’s a genuine beauty, whether you’ve watched one game or a thousand, it’s a feeling we’ve all experienced. It’s elegant, it’s beautiful, it’s America’s pastime … and after going the last four months without it, I’m sure glad it’s back.

    Enjoy the season everyone. You know I sure will.

    Lucas Deal is a senior in Communications. He can be reached at [email protected].