Art of Craft ~ brews and reviews
By Greg Richardson

I know people who believe May is the most spiritual month of the year.

For them, the spirituality of May surpasses the spiritual life of Christmas in December or Easter in March or April. May is the month when they lose themselves in ritual and worship, when they gather in cathedrals to share their faith.

Their spiritual life is immersed and saturated in baseball. They believe May is when baseball season gets down to business.

I do not share their beliefs. 

My memories of baseball stretch back to my father dragging me outdoors each spring and pitching to me. It was supposed to be an opportunity for me to practice batting, but I remember spending more time sneezing than perfecting my swing.

One summer when I was a teenager I played on a slow-pitch, 16-inch softball team. I was the pitcher and we won the championship. For me, our achievement meant only one thing; I never intended to play again.

I think I have attended a baseball game about once every ten years or so, sometimes under duress.

I have no love for baseball. There are many aspects of the sport I either do not understand or find ironic.

For example, the best possible result for a batter is to end up exactly where you started.

A baseball field only has boundaries on two sides. On the other sides nothing is out of bounds.

There is no regulation length of a game, and no time limit.

The “season” is more than six months long, which does not even include spring training.

Is it really a sport when the people who are actually playing in a game spend more time sitting down than on the field?

It bothers me when baseball managers wear the same uniforms as the players. Football, basketball, and hockey coaches do not wear their teams' uniforms.

All those obscure statistics which only have initials.

People play outdoors, but even a few drops of rain can delay, or even stop, the whole game.

Football is more in line with the history of the United States: long committee meetings interrupted by periods of intense violence.

Basketball is more consistent with our values as a country: ten people who are in excellent physical condition getting exercise, surrounded by thousands of people who need more exercise but are sitting and eating unhealthy food.

Even people I know who are contemplative think baseball “can be a little slow.”

The only time anything interesting happens in a baseball game is while I am getting something to eat or drink.

There is one part of baseball which even I find deeply spiritual. When the weather is just right, on one of those perfect May afternoon, sitting in the stands with a great craft beer and a Dodger dog.

The action on the field does not always capture my attention and I often find myself distracted by other thoughts. I do not remember anything particular about games in which I played or those I have seen.

I do remember it was at a baseball game where I bought my first beer. It was not a craft beer, and might have been before there was any craft beer. I was fifteen years old, doing my best to look eighteen, and apparently got away with it.

If you get the opportunity, I encourage you to spend a perfect May afternoon in the sun at a baseball game. Enjoy a hot dog and a great craft beer. They are easier to find now than the summer I was fifteen.

Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor in Pasadena, California. He is passionate about craft brewing, listening, and monks and monastic life. Greg has served as an assistant district attorney and an associate university professor. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com and he is on Twitter @StrategicMonk. You can email Greg at StrategicMonk@gmail.com, and he writes a blog for the Contemplative channel on http://www.patheos.com.

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