Cody Schulz: Baseball, George Will, and Life Lessons


This guest post was submitted by Morton County Commissioner Cody Schulz

Spring is finally here and one of the greatest of American holidays is upon us – MLB’s Opening Day. One of my favorite things in the world is baseball, and specifically New York Yankees baseball.

It seems that in today’s modern society we are always searching for deeper meaning or life lessons in everything we do – there must be a parable in every action. But with baseball I don’t think it is too cliché to pull some wisdom and lessons from this great game. Football has been referred to as America’s game, while baseball has a long and storied history and is truly America’s pass time.

Football does have some redeeming qualities, but it has been said that, “Football combines the two worst things about America: it is violence punctuated by committee meetings.”

[mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]“Football combines the two worst things about America: it is violence punctuated by committee meetings.”[/mks_pullquote]

One of my favorite columnists, George Will, writes passionately and poetically about baseball and its history. We share the opinion that one of baseball’s most redeeming qualities is that it requires from both players and observers, “equipoise” – an equilibrium, a balance between fearless boldness and commonsense caution. One must find the right balance of boldness and commonsense.

Another thing baseball can teach us is how to deal with winning and losing. There is a dignity and emotional maturity that can be gained from losing – we should learn from it. Will says, “Baseball seems to me to be the proper game for a democracy because it’s the game of a half-loaf, no one gets everything that they want and there is an emotional amount of losing in it. Every team goes to spring training knowing it is going to win 60 games, knowing that it is going to lose 60 games, and they play a whole season to sort out the middle 42. It’s a game that involves a kind of maturity; a kind of emotional equipoise by its fans to understand when you go to the ballpark you can’t have your happiness depend on winning because like I said, the best team is going to lose 60 times a year.

That’s why it’s the experience of the ballpark itself, it’s the experience of being in this spontaneous three-hour community of strangers who are brought together as a kind of amiable tribe for a home game at the ball park that is the reward itself more than just winning.” Translation – your happiness shouldn’t be fully dependent on the outcome – enjoy the spontaneity in situations and most of all enjoy the people you spend time with.

I have three young nephews between the ages of seven and seventeen that are at different stages of learning to play the game of baseball. It’s a joy to watch them learn. Patience is sometimes difficult in the young (and not so young), but they are learning and having fun, and maybe even picking up some life lessons as they go. Watching them brings back a lot of memories from long ago summers. We would play all that we could – didn’t need nine players, didn’t keep score – just pitch, hit and field until the sun went down.

It’s like no other game and this Opening Day exuberance brings me to one last thought from George Will. “Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal.”