For Luis García
It has nothing to do with the fact that he is Cuban, as I am, and I would like to see yet another fellow countryman in the All Star Game.
It is about baseball, and, more precisely, about a dimension of the game that sometimes we tend to forget.
Gerald Early once said: “There are only three things that America will be remembered for 2000 years from now when they study this civilization: The Constitution, jazz music, and baseball. These are the three most beautiful things this culture’s ever created.”
If we try to find what those three things have in common we realize they are, ultimately, beautiful and complex tools created to guide us –while having fun or pursuing happiness—in the difficult task of coping with the complexity of the world.
If we look to sports as metaphors —written with sweat— we could accept, at least as a playful possibility, that baseball is the one that better represents our struggle against the painful uncertainty that complexity always generates.
It is not casual that the most refined and effective methods of torture are based on uncertainty.
It is not accidental that success in any sport has always been linked to the capacity of the athlete for pain endurance.
No pain, no gain, says the old saying. But there are different kinds of pain.
In track and field, for example, pain comes from inside and it can be seen as a metaphor of our struggle against the force of gravity, the lack of oxygen, or the limits in our reaction speed.
In combat sports, as we all know, pain comes from inside but also, and more hurtfully, from outside. Those sports can be seen as metaphors for yet another level of struggle: the one that arises when, on top of our natural limitations, we have to face the thinking obstacle of another human being.
In team sports, pain comes from everywhere. It comes from extreme physical exertion, from hitting objects, from collisions with other human beings, as well as from the pervasive and unbearable feeling that uncertainty always generates.
One of the most beautiful things about USA is that every year millions of Americans get together in their open-sky cathedrals to enjoy complexity; to expect the unexpected and to face uncertainty while smiling, eating hot-dogs and singing about the land of the brave. It is a rather rare vision in a planet where most of the times people get together to do exactly the opposite.
A few weeks ago, Yasiel Puig debuted in the Major Leagues. Since then he has done almost everything a rookie can do to win the admiration of the crowd, the respect of his fellow players, the attention of the stars and the approval of the veterans.
Puig is a six-tool player. On top of the classical five tools he has that rare extra one: he plays baseball in a way long forgotten. He goes out every day, play after play, as an extremely gifted and well-trained professional player who refuses to abandon the joy of the game. He plays in a way that reminds us of those games played on the neighborhood field, while trying to impress that girl.
Now, after weeks of amazing performance, the question is here: Does Yasiel Puig deserves to be in the All Stars Game?
If baseball is about rules, statistics, plate appearances and projections on the past, the answer is clearly no. If baseball is about the simplicity of numbers and the comfort of avoiding uncertainties, the answer will be pretty close to a “better to wait.”
Fortunately, there is another dimension of baseball: that one teaching us how to defeat our primal fear of uncertainty, how to embrace complexity and accept that there is much more courage in hoping for the future than in remembering the past.
It will be fun to see which one prevails.