I was hoping to follow up the serious tone of Tuesday’s ‘5 regrets of the dying’ post with something far less serious; think, ‘Soccer – boring pastime or the most underrated form of entertainment in this part of the Southern Hemisphere?’! Ok, I admit that the title might need some tweaking, but you get my point…
But a seemingly harmless DVD last night changed all that.
We grabbed ‘Moneyball’ on DVD. Mrs YWS hadn’t yet seen it and she was sold on the concept before I had the ‘Pitt’ fully articulated. I was keen to see if Pitt’s performance was as mediocre as I had remembered it and if the movie as a whole, as I had built it up big time when I first saw it, was as disappointing as I – and most of my friends – thought it was.
For those with a good memory, this isn’t the first time Moneyball has been the focus in this forum. In fact, I was shocked to read this post and see that I really liked it the first time around. As time went on and Pitt was pushed for an Oscar, I must have gone into a subconscious anti-Pitt mentality that stemmed from, I don’t know, a combination of the knowledge that no way was he good enough in it to win an Oscar and some kind of repressed deep-seated support of Jennifer Anniston!
As I re-watched and thoroughly enjoyed Moneyball last night, 3 moments were quite profound. (If you haven’t seen it and intend to, don’t read the rest of this section.)
1. The Boston Red Sox owner, in encouraging Pitt in his statistical approach which metamorphosed the game – even though the A’s were bundled out of the playoffs – tells him, ‘I know you’re takin’ it in the teeth out there. But the first guy through the wall; he always gets bloodied.’
As someone trying to be a change agent in education in this country and meeting resistance and negativity from those fearful of change, this was personally profound.
2. There was also this phenomenal clip in a minor league game involving an overweight hitter – Jeremy Brown – who, because of his size, never tries to run to second base. In this instance, upon making a big hit, he chances his luck and rounds first to try to get to second base. Take a look at the footage, I beg you, as the visuals far outweigh my storytelling.
Regardless, Brown rounds first, stumbles and lands flat on his face before humiliatingly crawling on his hands and knees to ‘the safety’ of first base.
The thing is, he didn’t need to.
Without even knowing it, Brown had hit a home run.
For Pitt’s character, coming to terms with defeat in the midst of turning the baseball world upside down, the meaning was clear; and profound.
For me, I wonder about whether or not my job role really makes an actual difference in the lives of young people. There’s no quantifiable data you can throw my way – regardless of what national testing will try to tell you; it’s not my measure of accomplishment, nor should it be parents’ or schools’.
And again, in striving to have people identify their priorities and passions in their work life and seek balance in that area, the conflict and disdain thrown my way can be utterly disheartening over the long term. Moneyball had for the second time, thrown me a lifeline.
3. The greatest influence however, on this year without sport, was the footage of the real story of the Oakland A’s record breaking 20 consecutive wins.
Replicating the real-life story, the A’s built a seemingly insurmountable 11-0 lead against the Kansas City Royals, before blowing it to 11-11 in the 9th innings.
Up stepped maligned first-baseman Scott Hatteberg for their final shot before going into extra innings.
You can guess what happened next, but the joy experienced by the players, fans and management was extraordinary. It’s the moments captured in those 2 clips that sent chills through my body, even as I sourced them on YouTube this morning.
And that’s when the fear began.
You see, it’s those moments, those special flashes of victory and redemption that are so compelling for sports fans. They don’t come around very often, so when they do, they are cherished and put to lifelong memory.
Once May 24 ticks over, I don’t want to fall back into that addiction.
It’s much easier to be safer from the allure of sport when the boundaries are in place and there’s just no option to engage with it, as has been the case these last 11+ months. But in 6 weeks’ time, those walls come tumbling down and I’m unsure of my coping mechanisms when the stimulus of the NBA playoffs, the AFL season in full swing, the end of the English Premier League and the non-stop action of the WWE and UFC rear their heads.
I don’t want to go back to how things used to be.
In the West Wing, Leo McGarry, the White House Chief of Staff and a recovering alcoholic once commented, ‘I don’t understand people who have one drink. I don’t understand people who leave half a glass of wine on the table.’
There was a little bit of Leo in my approach to sport. How can you watch just the last quarter of a game? How can you have not watched a game this round when there were 2 great match-ups plus your own team playing? How can you not be across these playoffs?! I could go on…
Yet you can’t hide behind the curtain of abstaining forever. At some stage you have to confront your fears, as stupid as that might sound in this context.
There’s a great deal of security in what I have done these last 323 days.
Removing that blanket isn’t as easy as you might anticipate.