Opening Day is a metaphor for life. It helps inaugurate Spring with hope, the very base of the season’s renaissance.
Indeed, any junior high student in French class will tell you that naître, the root of renaissance, means to awaken in the language of love. And that’s what Opening Day is—an awakening filled with promise of victory, achievement, and joy. For those who live in non-tropical climates, Spring is when the weather turns for the warmer, a tangible reminder of the intangible feeling that one gets with peeling away the coldness.
And so it is with every Spring that thousands congregate in stadia for baseball, a ritual of leisure extending to several sports, dating back to the heyday of the Roman Colosseum, and providing an escape from the mundane chores of everyday life. Moreover, sports establish an identity for a metropolitans wishing for a sense of belonging. Civic pride, in turn, occurs through chants and cheers for a home run, a strikeout, or a double play performed by representatives wearing uniforms, caps, and cleats for their jobs.
Opening Day stirs the air with possibility. Dodgers icon Tommy Lasorda said, “No matter how good you are, you’re going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are, you’re going to win one-third of your games. It’s the other third that makes the difference.”
There are, of course, exceptions. In their first year, the 1962 New York Mets won one-fourth of their games with a 40-120 record. In 1954, the Cleveland Indians exceeded the one-third barometer with 111 victories; Ohio’s tribesmen won the ’54 World Series.
Lasorda’s proclamation is applicable to our lives. No matter what inspirational speakers, clergy, and role models declare, we don’t always achieve what we set out to. One is reminded of the poet Jagger, who, in the age of free love, told us that we don’t always get what we want. Or deserve.
Nonetheless, we persevere, as does a baseball team. And on Opening Day, another adage underlies the hope beckoning with teams taking the field for the first time in the season—minimal injuries lead to maximum possibility for victory. Staying emotionally, mentally, and physically healthy will increase the likelihood that plans can be solidified, executed, and realized.
We cannot account for unforeseen obstacles that stand in our way as a baseball team cannot account for torn rotator cuffs, sprained ankles, or twinged backs. It is the rare warrior that can surpass ailments by sheer will—the twin of soundalike cousin skill. Mickey Mantle is, perhaps, the best example. We mortals, on the other hand, must revamp our plans as a baseball must rearrange the lineup when a batter or a pitcher succumbs to injury.
We cannot account for that which is beyond our control as baseball players cannot account for umpires’ bad calls, weather’s effect on the field, and dependable colleagues being traded.
We cannot account for a substantial part of our losses as a baseball team cannot account for one-third of its losses in the Lasorda paradigm. We can, however, absorb the loss, learn from it, and step onto the field again. In a metaphorical sense, the feeling of Opening Day emerges with every pitch, every turn at bat, and every game of the season. So it should be with life.
And we ought not forget the arrows in our quiver. Not every player can be a power hitter, but raw power does not, alone, win ball games. Bunting, defense, hit-and-run, singles, and Boudreau shifts are some of the tactics used to win ball games. Opening Day reminds us all that is possible, but it should also remind us that while our losses counterbalance our victories—personal and professional—we have opportunities awaiting us.