Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Bottom line is not the bottom line

I was watching the Detroit/Oakland game last night when it came time to play my Tuesday night tennis match. My partner came by to get me off the elliptical. "One more pitch" I said. It was, if you were watching, when the Tigers were one strike away of getting out of a bases loaded nobody out jam in their win or go home fourth game.  I saw the pitch (a foul) and went out to the courts.

I asked my Tuesday night tennis crony if he liked baseball. He said he has two reactions to baseball. "Either it is mind numbing boring or too exciting to sit and watch." He recalled the fourth game of the 2004 Yankees/Red Sox playoff game.  I remembered it easily. If you are a fan, you know the game and how the extra inning tilt was hold your breath stuff if you cheered for either team.  He told me he could barely take watching the game.

Earlier this year I wrote about how sudden death hockey in the NHL playoffs is about as exciting as sports can get.  A close second, I think, is playoff baseball in a deciding game.  When I finished playing last night, I checked out of the gym in a hurry and went home to watch the final innings of the Red Sox game. It was one of those nights when I was afraid to get up from my chair when I thought a particular reclining spot was bringing the Red Sox good luck.  When we (note the pronoun) scored two in the seventh and then held on to win, I was so wound up that it took me a spell to get to sleep even though it was after midnight.  And I know I am not alone. This morning in my drive to work, two local talk show hosts were discussing the wisdom of starting player x over player y in a game that will not be played UNTIL NEXT WEEK. Skipping the upcoming series, these pundits were analyzing the possible match-ups in the World Series and agonizing over the lefty-righty decisions.

I'll remember, probably (who knows what we will remember for sure until we actually are in a position to remember it), how I was sitting last night when I think about the game.  But something to write about now is what took place after the game.  The millionaires who were playing the game were spraying each other with champagne and acting like 10 year olds in the locker room. Just whooping it up and knocking back the booze and dumping cold water on the manager and behaving like, well, they had just accomplished something important.  When you think about life--and I've written about this before--you notice the strange relationship between the pursuit of money and the bliss associated with successes not based on money, but human relationships and cooperative success.  The dancing baseball players are all loaded. The poorly paid players earn more in one year than the average reader of this blog will make in ten years.  Winning the game last night means not a whole lot in terms of their financial bottom line.  Living with teammates for six months and achieving a collective success is what makes them dance.  Think of the last time you were thrilled enough to want to dance in the streets.  Maybe you got a great job, but the durable desire to dance in the street was probably based on some emotional excitement and connection.  The bottom line in terms of our sense of success is unlikely to be the bottom line.

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