The Sacrifice

I’ve been re-reading a book from our bookshelf that I haven’t looked at for many years.  The title is Baseball and Philosophy.  It is a series of essays written by baseball experts and philosophers and was edited by Eric Bronson.  I’m a baseball fan and usually, by this time of year, I would have been to at least one game.  But with the pandemic, things have changed.  So, I decided I needed some baseball input aside from watching games. 

Chapter 4 of the book is titled: Taking One for the Team: Baseball and Sacrifice.  As many of you know, a “sacrifice” from a baseball perspective can take several forms.  The most common, the “sacrifice bunt”, is when the batter bunts the ball in an attempt to advance another base runner.  If successfully executed, the base runner advances into scoring position, and the batter is likely thrown out at first.  In this way, the batter (who makes an out) does so for the sake of the group – i.e., their team, in order to increase the team’s opportunity to score.  There are many other forms of sacrifice in baseball including the “sacrifice fly”, the “suicide squeeze”, a base runner “rundown” initiated to draw a throw in order for another runner to score a run, and of course, “taking one for the team” – i.e., allow oneself to be hit by a pitch in order to reach first base.  But the essence of all of these “sacrifice” plays is for one player to sacrifice his or her self in order to help the team win.

Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic requires sacrifice.  The public is asked to stop going to restaurants and other forms of entertainment in an attempt to keep the virus from spreading.  The public is also asked to implement new practices like “social distancing” and wearing a mask. Given the highly contagious nature of this virus, coupled with the potentially deadly result, it would be irresponsible for people to not adhere to these recommendations, because by not doing so, obviously endangers the individual, but it also endangers others that come into contact with that individual.  Failure to follow these public safety guidelines is, in my opinion, also selfish, akin to saying: “What I want to do is more important than your safety.” 

Recent polling indicates an overwhelming proportion of the population supports government restrictions to control the virus.  However, a small portion of people, often very vocal and who appear in the news, oppose these same restrictions.  Unfortunately, part of the problem with this virus is that irresponsible actions by a small number of people can significantly impact huge portions of the population, who are acting responsibly.  A few irresponsible individuals can trigger a spike of the virus in a community; a “few bad apples can spoil the whole barrel”.

The manner in which our country ultimately responds to, and manages the current pandemic, will tell us a lot about how our country will ultimately respond to the imminent challenges associated with climate change. And, like the pandemic, solving climate change, requires a world-wide effort with all countries reducing their carbon emissions. Climate Change: Can we stop the fire? provided a list of ten policy “solutions” to address climate change.  Implementing any one of these policy “solutions” involves changing the way we do things and sacrifices by people. As a result, we can expect objections from certain individuals or groups that are being affected.  But by comparison, people typically don’t like the idea of paying higher taxes, but those with children do want good schools.  And most people like the idea of clean water and clean air, and good police and fire departments, and are willing to “sacrifice” part of their treasure for these things.  And living on a planet that is sustainable for humans might just rise to that same level of support.  If we think of ourselves as part of a “team”, then sacrificing for the good of the team might just enable us to win the fight against climate change. 

Former Yankee catcher, Yogi Berra is believed to have said: “When you sacrifice, you stand beside your teammates, by putting them in front of yourself.” Giving up oneself on behalf of others, for the sake of a good, is rewarding in itself.

In baseball, “Home” is a very special place.  Our planet is too.

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