The weather outside is frightful as they sing in that lovely Christmas tune. The dark stormy clouds release multitudes of rain while being pushed by winds that threaten with every gust to uproot the mighty trees that line the front yard. It is cold too. A cold that bites, but is not quite cold enough to complete the trick of turning water to ice. It is the type of weather that lends itself to the brutality of football, a harsh unforgiving weather that will leave you broken and battered if you are unlucky enough to be caught in it.
So how does one spiritually warm themselves in such a calamity with no baseball? Surely football makes a poor warm blanket for one’s soul. Basketball, while fun to watch, doesn’t come close to conjuring up the warm summer days that baseball does. And hockey is just as harsh, possibly more extreme and surely colder, than the wildness outside.
With no crack of the bat, the destitute baseball fan must turn to visualization, a tool used by many trusted psychologists to create a desired emotional state. So make yourself comfortable. No T.V. Kick the muddy shoes off and take a seat on the couch or on your favorite armchair because soon you will be where you desire most.
An Aching Back, Controlled Breathing, and White Noise
Picture yourself sitting in an uncomfortable plastic chair with minimal legroom. Are you there yet? Yes? Great. It’s truly wonderful, isn’t it? The discomfort of a cramped chair has never been better. And now that your back hurts and you wish you’d brought along a pad for your rear take a deep breath. In through the nose and out through the mouth. Do it again. Smell the hot dogs, stale beer, your neighbor who forgot their deodorant, and also your neighbor who put on too much perfume. The smells are extreme at a ballpark. They are good, they are bad. No matter, the smells are human. They are baseball.
Continue inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth, but shift your focus to your ears. The ballpark is filled with so many distinct sounds. First, your stinky neighbors. One of them knows everything about statistics, managerial strategy, and why Fernando Tatis Jr. was taking PEDs. The other can’t stop talking about why Cathy and Frank got divorced. “You know he was cheating with some lady he met in a bar,” she says, taking a sip of her watermelon White Claw. Then comes the melodic, “Peanuts! Get your peanuts!” Followed closely by the thwack of the ball hitting the catcher’s mitt. “Steee-rike!” says the umpire. The crowd boos. The pitch was off the plate by a mile.
Baseball Visualization: Tell Me What You See
Now that you are comfortable in your skin the green expanse appears. There it is. Four white dots surrounded by dirt and the straightest of baselines seemingly speeding towards their demise at the home run fence. The team on the field is wearing their road grays and the player at bat is standing with one foot in the box and one out, adjusting his batting gloves and then pressing down on the top of his batting helmet before he steps in. The pitcher comes set. He checks the runner at first and delivers.
There is not a cloud in the sky. The wind? Well, the wind might never exist again. Nasty storm fronts? Poor driving conditions? Never heard of ’em. You’re at a ballgame and all of that stuff has fallen away. It is glorious, utterly spectacular. It is baseball.
Benjamin Sabin is a baseball historian and writer. He has had various articles published by the Society For American Baseball Research (SABR). He is a lifelong San Francisco Giants fan, but he loves all things baseball. He is married, has a daughter, and two cats.