Outside of 9/11, there are only two things I remember about 2001. Mike Piazza hitting a home run off of Steve Karsay, and George W. Bush throwing out the first pitch of Game 3 in Yankee Stadium. Through all the years of its existence, baseball has been a unique, American past time. It’s a force that binds this country, along with its wounds, and lets us escape the struggle of our daily lives, if only for three hours at a time. This is because baseball is as unique and as conservative as American Values from the way it’s governed, down to its very nature.
Conservative thought has long since been to shrink the federal government to increase the freedom of the citizenry so that their decisions determine their outcome. This idea is embodied perfectly in baseball umpires. Umpires are a spectator in their own sport. Their only job is to call balls, strikes, outs, fair balls, and foul balls and be as invisible as possible to the spectator as possible. They are not responsible for the outcome of the game like their counterparts in football and basketball can be. They can not be the center of attention in baseball. This exact principle is what conservatives believe is the role of government; minimal, calling balls and strikes. By letting the players play, or citizens have more freedom, you let their decisions and actions decide the outcome. You do not award them extra yardage, or an extra run or extra strike. You let them have an equal chance to do something. That is the role of government. It does not guarantee equal outcome. You may strike out, put a ball in the gap for a double, or even hit a home run, it’s all up to you, the player, the individual, to make something of your opportunity.
Baseball is the most individualistic, yet most team-oriented sport in the world. As Babe Ruth once said, “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” Baseball, as does conservatism, celebrates the individual over the collective, but requires cooperation. No one man can play all nine positions, carry the team on his back all year, or pitch every game and be a successful playoff team. A game so individualistic and cooperative also requires the most revered stats in sports: the baseball statistic. In this way, the game makes personal accountability paramount. A player’s statistics are plastered all around the stadium and all over the TV for all the world to see how good or bad he is. In no other sport are these personal statistics so brazenly displayed and dissected by the fans of the game. As conservatives, we celebrate such a meritocracy. We believe the best person suited for the job should get the job without consideration of characteristics such as gender, skin color, creed, or sexual orientation. We believe in personal accountability for one’s actions and that one should own up to their mistakes. This personal accountability, along with its long season, make baseball a true meritocracy. In a 162 game baseball season, luck matters least. Fluke hits and misplayed balls even out. There is no guessing how good the team is, you are your record.
Most importantly, baseball gives us room to strive, which means it gives us room to fail. A hitter hitting .300 is an All-Star, yet fails to record a hit 70% of the time. Failure is as big a part of the American Dream as it is in baseball. For one reason or another, 8 out of 10 new businesses fail in their first 18 months, the American Dream is being able to take that chance, and if it doesn’t work being able to pull yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again. Like a baseball player must have amnesia with a bad game, so too with the entrepreneur. You learn from your failure, you forget your failure, then you don’t let that failure get in the way. To climb from your standing current financial standing to be better off, you must take risks and baseball epitomizes this. So as the Boys of the Summer take the field take the field come Opening Day, remember what the game is all about: celebrating America. And make sure to go to a game and celebrate the conservative, uniquely American, values that bind us all together, even for only 3 hours at a time. “This field, this game: it’s a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again. Oh…people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”
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(Photo credit: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.