September of 2011 was miserable for me. I didn’t lose my job. My loved ones were healthy and well. My misery wasn’t caused by any of the normal culprits. It was caused by the meteoric fall of the Atlanta Braves.
When the Braves entered September they had a record of 80 wins and 55 losses. They had a solid 8 1/2 game lead in the race for the wildcard. If the Braves had won half of the rest of their games, they would have handily made the postseason. Unfortunately, they found a way to win only 9 of their 27 remaining games. This failure allowed the St. Louis Cardinals to usurp the wildcard and enter postseason play.
This collapse made history and made me distressed. It was a torturous slide. Nearly every day of September I awoke with hope that the Braves might pull out one more win. Two out of those three days ended painfully.
As I considered my pain, I began to wonder why a game was causing me grief. What brings a rational person to be so affected by a sports team’s losses?
Isn’t it about time?
Time is like any other limited resource. The more scarce a resource becomes, the greater its value. As we grow older, time becomes increasingly scant. We are forced to be wise about the usage of our time. Whatever we invest our time in becomes as valuable to us as the time spent.
When I was a kid I had an abundance of time. I used this time to collect baseball cards, attend games with my family, and watch baseball on TV. The time I invested in baseball was drawn from a seemingly endless pool. So even though I spent more time with baseball, it was not as important to me. The wins and losses of the Braves had little affect on my younger self.
As I got older I largely lost interest in baseball. Other activities consumed my free time, and then the players’ strike during the 90’s killed my enthusiasm. Baseball was no longer my pastime. It became merely a happy memory. I invested little or no time in the Braves and was unaffected by their failures.
A few years ago my interest was revitalized. My dad, my brother and I went to a game at Turner Field. We relished every aspect of the experience. Even the rain added to our enjoyment. In the end, the Braves won and we were able to rejoice with the crowd. It was the great time that I remembered from my youth.
That trek to Atlanta started a yearly tradition. Now every summer we gather together and drive down to Atlanta. We stop at The Varsity for chili dogs before the game. My dad curses at the traffic and we battle for parking. Then we walk to Turner Field and find our seats. We sit among the crowd and scream ourselves hoarse. At the end of another great game we struggle back through traffic and begin the journey home.
The past few years I’ve been watching baseball on TV again. I have a preset for the Braves Radio Network on the radio in our car. I’m back to being a fan and being a fan takes time.
My time comes from a smaller supply these days. It has become a very precious commodity. So I’m trying to be more wise in its utilization. My family is the most important part of my life and they garner most of my time. I try to keep things that are trivial down to a minimal investment of time. For all other interests and ventures, including baseball, I try to follow Paul’s council to the Corinthians by being “temperate in all things”. Being temperate still allows me to spend sufficient time observing baseball. And even a moderate amount of time spent with the Braves enables every loss to hurt and every win to thrill.