Monday, August 22, 2016

The Theology of Rain Outs.

For reasons that frankly even I find puzzling I have been thinking lately about the theological implications of baseball.  

Surprisingly, when you realize that it is a game created by White Christian guys with Muttonchops, baseball has strong themes from Eastern religions.  Buddist mostly, but with a bit of Hindu garnish.

You have the continuous cycle of life, death and re-birth.  Every spring baseball returns, renewed, and with exactly the same life cycle.

You also after a fashion have the concept of re-incarnation, and of going up or down in the karmic universe depending on your actions.  Live an exemplary life as a AAA player and you will ascend to The Show.  But if your ERA soars or your batting average slumps you can expect to be demoted and spend your next phase of existence in a reduced state.

There are a lot of other philosophical and religious questions to ponder in baseball.  It tends for instance to come down heavily in favor of Free Will.  The batter can always decide to either swing at a pitch or let it go past.  But in the pecuilar concept that is the Infield Fly Rule, there can be times when the batter is Predestined to be out no matter what the defending infielders do. They could drop the pop up and start kicking it around like a soccer ball.  No matter. Batter's Out.

But I actually got going on this kick by contemplating another of baseball's unique features: The Rain Out.

For my non-American friends I should explain that while a baseball game should go nine innings there are times when weather conditions do not cooperate.  

If a game cannot go on because of rain (or snow, or in one marvelous instance, bees!) and five innings have been completed, the team that was ahead has won what then becomes an "official game".  But if play cannot continue and it has been less than five innings the head umpire declares "No Game".  It never happened.  All the actions of the players both the good and the bad......never happened.

It is passing strange.

I am - sigh - a Minnesota Twins fan.  We are having a most wretched season.  But for a few weeks they had been playing well, had been winning most of their games.

The other day they were beating the Houston Astros 5-0 in the third inning.  The skies opened and torrential rains poured down for hours on end.  Brian Dozier's magnificent home run? Never happened.  The two Houston errors in one inning?  Never happened.  Statistics revert to where they were before the first pitch was thrown.  The game is stricken from history, the sins and heroics, gone.  

But not entirely.

The laboring pitchers still have sore arms.  I assume that if their contracts have a bonus for attaining a certain number of innngs pitched they or their agents will count these.

Serious misdeeds on the field are not common but do happen.  If a player for instance got caught using a corked bat, or threw a punch at an umpire I am sure they would still face sanctions and suspension, their argument that "none of that every happened" falling flat.

The only comparable situation I can think of is the concept of having a marriage anulled - made as if it never were - that still recognizes the legitimacy of any children who somewhat inexplicably happened.

I guess a Rain Out results in the washing away of Venial Sins but not Mortal ones....

The game was rescheduled for the next day as part of a double header.  The Twins were smitten down in a very Old Testament fashion in both games.

1 comment:

jon spencer said...

The Mammatus clouds make that picture.