Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Emotion Runs the Show

"One out, last of the ninth, Branca pitches. Bobby Thomson takes a strike call on the inside corner. Bobby hitting at .292. He's had a single and a double and he drove in the Giants first run with a long fly to center. Brooklyn leads it 4-2. Hartung down the line at third not taking any chances. Lockman without too big of a lead at second but he'll be running like the wind if Thomson hits one. Branca throws. THERE'S A LONG FLY. IT'S GONNA BE I BELIEVE... THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT. THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT. THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT.THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT. BOBBY THOMSON HITS INTO THE LOWER DECK OF THE LEFT FIELD STANDS.THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT AND THEY'RE GOING CRAZY. THEY'RE GOING CRAZY. AHHHHHOHHHH."

"Forty three seconds remaining. Morrow checked into the boards. It comes back to center ice. Thirty-eight, thirty seven seconds left in the game. Petrov with it, the Americans on top 4-3. Long shot. Craig able to get a piece of it to sweep it away. Twenty-eight seconds. The crowd goin' insane. Kharlamov shooting it into the American end again. Morrow is back there. Now Johnson. Nineteen seconds. Johnson over to Ramsey. Bilyaletdinov gets checked by Ramsey. McClanahan is there. The puck is still loose. Eleven seconds. You've got ten seconds. The countdown goin' on right now. Morrow up to Schultz. Five seconds left in the game. DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES? YES!!!!!!"

"There's a ball hit to the outfield.......Swoboda makes the dive.................


My friend Leslie says that in twenty years our whole life will be run by computers.

"What do you mean Leslie? Our whole life will be run by computers. What about emotion?"

"They're saying that soon they will be able to program computers to have human qualities--like emotion."

"They'll never successfully do it."

"Sure they will," she says "Computers are already dehumanizing our experience and emotion is becoming less and less important."

"I don't think so. Emotion is not becoming any less important or less of a factor in our daily lives. In fact, emotion runs the whole show--the whole shebang."

"Give me a good reason why computers can't run the show."

"Okay. The reaction to Bobby Thomson's home run off of Ralph Branca in the 1951 playoffs."

"What? Who?"

"Bobby Thomson. The reaction to his home run off Ralph Branca.  That's a good reason. And I'll give you a couple more. One, the US Olympic hockey team's victory over the then Soviet Union in 1980 and two, Ron Swoboda's catch off Brooks Robinson in the 1969 World Series. Yeah. Those ought to do. Bobby Thomson, the US '80 hockey team, and Ron Swoboda.  There are many more but those will do."

"What are you talking about?"

"Those three sporting events explain why computers can't run the show."

"You want to explain in a little more detail?"

"Sure. When Bobby Thomson hit his home run off Ralph Branca in 1951 the whole city of New York went bonkers.  Why did that happen? A fellow named Thomas Kiernan wrote a whole book about the home run.  An entire book about a home run. He wrote that 'strong men wept and embraced total strangers, people danced in the streets and booze flowed like water.' He said it was 'the Armistice, Lindbergh's homecoming, and the repeal of prohibition all wrapped up in one crazy unbelievable event.'

"Go figure that. What propels people to scream deliriously over a home run, over a pennant race, when there's nothing tangible in it for them.  Nobody in the stands goes crazy because they won some money on a bet. Russ Hodges doesn't scream THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT five times because he gets a bonus if the Giants goes to the Series. It doesn't make a nickel's worth of difference to the fans who watched the 'shot heard round the world.' Why do they go crazy?

"How do you figure the US hockey team, playing with college kids, beat the Russians in Lake Placid. The Russians were essentially a professional team. It was like Boston College beating the Boston Bruins. How do you figure the kids did that?  Why do you think the players pounced on goalie Jim Craig after the game?  Why do you think one of the players kept banging his hands on the ice after it was over? Why did announcer Al Michael's shout, as the last seconds ticked away, 'DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES----YES.'

"I figure it's because emotion runs the show--pure and simple. We are emotional beings with brains that act as dependent variables for our hearts. Even for those who have decided to lead with the brain and not with the heart that decision somewhere along the line was not cerebral but the residual of something emotional. The crooner in Simon and Garfunkel's 'I am a Rock' decides to be an island not because of anything logical but rather because if he never loved he "never would have cried.'  Those who seem staid, stoic, objective, rational, and logical have devolved into that persona not because they're unemotional, but because sometime in the past their emotions surfaced and it hurt. Their hearts told their brains to cut it out--or try to.  Emotion.  Emotion runs the show.

"Tell me. Why does Swoboda try to catch that ball in the World Series. Think about it. Why does Swoboda dive to catch that ball? The situation didn't logically call for it. The Orioles had runners on first and third and there was one out. Swoboda's Mets were winning 1-0 in the top of the ninth. It was the fourth game of the World Series and Brooks Robinson hit a ferocious line drive to the right of right fielder Ron Swoboda.  Any rational individual could see he did not have a chance for the ball.  If he dives for the ball and the ball gets past him, two runs score easy, maybe even three and the Mets would be behind.  Even if he were somehow to catch the ball the runner on third would tag up and score to tie the game.

"Why did Swoboda try for that ball? Whatever propelled him, Whatever it was, that's what we have to harness. That 's the real energy crisis in my opinion. It's channeling that. Tapping that. Thinking about how to utilize that. That's the secret.

"Go ask Siri if Swoboda should make a try for that ball. Imagine seeing Robinson's blast go off the bat and you can stop all time for a minute and check in with Siri.

Question. Should an outfielder dive for a line drive hit thirty feet away from him in a one run ball game in the ninth inning of the fourth game of the World Series with runners on first and third.

Siri--Who is the outfielder.

Answer--Ron Swoboda

Siri--Don't make me laugh.

Swug, Swug Swoboda. Casey Stengel's myth of a right fielder for the Amazin' Mets. Swug who used to lose the ball in the lights during day games. Swug who made routine catches, adventures. Swug, who often was lifted for a defensive replacement in the ninth inning.

"'Ron Swoboda" Siri snorts derisively, "Ron Swoboda should let the ball drop, throw to third base. ALLOW THE ONE RUN TO SCORE TYING THE GAME BUT STOP THE RUNNER ON FIRST FROM GETTING TO THIRD.'

"But Swoboda does not let the ball drop. He attempts a ridiculous catch, an impossible catch for even a skilled outfielder let alone iron fingers Swoboda.  And he makes it. He makes it. And if you have never seen it on youtube, go see it because it is absolutely unbelievable. Sports Center top ten number 1 material. It looks like some video trick.  Nobody could have caught that ball.  Not Willie Mays. No one makes that catch.  But Swoboda caught it.

"But what is more important is that he went for it. What possessed him to go for that ball. What urging what source of energy propelled him to dive headlong at a ball that was practically in a different time zone. What incredible element of our human-ness served as the catalyst for that attempt.

"It is the same source which drives us to yell for Bobby Thomson or aspire to be Bobby Thomson. The same source which had Americans screaming for the US hockey team, or cry at a movie, or bear hug our mothers. It is the same source that accounted for Beatlemania, Elvis hysteria, and nearly world wide mourning when Prince died last year.  It is the source which explains why Communism never worked and why there's no business like show business.

"It is the source which serves as director and producer and star of our movie, our play, our life. It is our emotional energy which directs our life. It is that source which is stockpiled in our guts and which we invest in our lives and loves. It is that source which all too often subconsciously decides our careers, chooses our lovers, selects our fantasies.

"And it is so unrefined, so raw, and so ready to come abursting out that we often don't think about how we will channel it, how we will invest it. We just want to use it and get it out, even if we don't realize we want to use it and get it out.

"Where should we invest our emotional energy, into what bank, into what stock. We should make sure we invest it wisely. We should make sure it accrues genuine and not artificial interest. We should make sure the investment is in something that is for real, not spurious; in something that is lasting, not ephemeral; because if that stock goes down we really crash.

"Should we buy into monogamy, the dollar, the game, the orgasm? Should we buy into politics, or education, or philanthropy, or music? Should we buy into Scientology, Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism. How shall we invest our energy?

"If it was a bunch of dough we all would think about it. It is our essence and our guts. We ought to think very carefully about it.

"And no computer, no Siri or Echo or Google gizmo, will ever do a satisfactory job of doing that for us."

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