Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Thursday, March 29, 2018


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith and Life for the Years of Winter…   

“In the spring, a young man’s fancy turns to… baseball!” Old men, too.

I am excited, far more than I should be. But it’s Maundy Thursday! Also Opening Day! The very first professional baseball team, my team, the Cincinnati Reds team, is starting the season! They’re still in first place!

In my column of Feb. 12, I tried to explain, more for myself than anyone else, why I have such an obsession with sports. There is more than one answer to this question, but right now, in this time of political turmoil, I’m aware that sports provides an oasis in the desert of insults and falsehoods and tribalism. It’s called “between the lines.”

When you are “between the lines” on a baseball field, you have to concentrate so hard on the game that you can’t think about anything else. In the chaos of family life as a child, and puberty as an adolescent, and stupidity [mine as well as that of others] as an adult, sports has allowed me to drop all concern except the next pitch, the next snap, the next shot. It is a reset.

Everybody needs a spot “between the lines,” be it knitting or carving or… you name it. Even if it’s just watching. You’re never too old to find a spot between the lines.


In my column of 2-12-18, I said that I had stopped playing sports myself when I turned 70 because we moved to Iron Mountain that year, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where there was no old-guys softball league and the only sports involve sliding down mountains at great speed, or shooting animals who don’t know they are part of a “sport.” I forgot about pickle ball, a cut-down version of tennis, which I started playing in my early 70s and played until I was almost 80. I loved pickle ball, but at that point I realized I had too big a risk while going backward to get a lob and losing my balance and “bonking my noggin,” as our granddaughter referred to it when she was little. When old people bonk their noggins, they tend to die.

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