New Age Baseball Game
Copyright © 2007, David A. Epstein.

All Rights Reserved.

The stadium was filling up with fans and foes alike. It was another one of those late-season Giants vs. Dodgers pennant chasers. Both teams were neck and neck in the fight for the Western Division lead.

Dodger fans were being seated near the Dodger's dugout. A few Giants and Dodger fans warmly embraced. "Your mudda," said a man wearing the blue Dodgers hat. "Your mother as well," said his friend wearing the Giant's black hat. A woman in a long, colorful cotton dress walked by and said, "All our mothers, forever."

The players came out on the field. They sat down on the outfield grass and assumed their lotus positions. Their coaches were leading them in their breathing exercises, the Pranayama Drill as they termed it, followed by the ritual chanting of "Om Mani Padme Hum". After about fifteen minutes of this warmup routine, the players started playing catch with each other.

As the game was nearing its beginning, the Chi Tea vendor started walking the aisles. "Chi Chi. Get your Chi Tea here." In a nearby aisle walked another vendor peddling his goods. "Echinacia. Don't let your cold start. Get your echinacia now."

Then the public address announcer started speaking in her pleasing, sanguine voice. "Fellow human beings of planet Earth, welcome to Whole Foods Park in San Francisco, home of your San Francisco Giants." The fans started to cheer. The large Yin-Yang sign behind the outfield seats illuminated with a rainbow of colors.

As each starting player was announced, he or she came out of their dugout and greeted the crowd with a Namaste gesture, hands together and brought back to the chest. One of the Dodger players chose not to do this, and instead waved to the crowd. Some of the crowd boo'd while others simply waved back.

"And noooow," began the public address announcer. "Let us focus our attention directly above the playing field, where our residential Earth Goddess and famed recording artist, Ms. Harmony Wells, will now sing our National Anthem." She was levitating on a carpet about two-hundred feet above second base. "Oh-ho say can you seeeeeeeeeee. By the dawn's early l-ay-ay-ay-ttt. What so proudly wee-eeee hai-ai-ai-ai-ailed. As the twilights last leaning ... And the rockets red glare." At that point, she hit that signature high note right on key, and her carpet shot up another fifty feet or so. Large lasers lights were projected above, depicting various rockets shooting into the night sky. Some of the fans were cheering.

When Harmony finished singing, the fans once again cheered. Then, the Giant Gong was sounded; it resonated sharply throughout the ballpark. When the reverberations subsided, the Giants players took the field. They tossed around a few baseballs in the infield and outfield, while the pitcher and catcher were warming up. After a few minutes, the home plate announcer yelled out "Play Ball".

"Batting first for the Dodgers, playing shortstop, number 22, Shiva Singh." A few people cheered, a few boo'd.  He entered the batter's box, and the game was on it's way. The first pitch was a strike. Most of the crowd demonstrated it's approval. The pitcher took his time, received a few signs from the catcher, disapproving each time until he received one he liked. Then he threw the second pitch. "Ball one," said the umpire. The pitcher gave him a glare, and said "that was a strike". The umpire laughed, mildly. A few more pitches were thrown, some balls, some fouled off. Finally, the batter received a pitch he could hit and slammed it into the alley way between left and center field. He rounded first and headed to second. The left fielder threw a perfect strike to second base, and the second baseman applied the tag on the sliding Shiva and was called out. Shiva got up and politely protested the call. He felt he was safe.

A fan sitting in a nearby seat mentioned that he went to the acupuncturist who was administering treatment in the concessions area. He was sipping a cup of Chinese herbal tea as the last out was made in the first inning. Between the innings, soft ambient music was channeled through the stadium speakers.

It was now the Giant's turn to bat. "Batting first for the Giants, number 13, Lucky Moonbeam." Again, a few cheered, a few boo'd. He was a left-handed hitter, so he crossed the plate and stepped into the other side of the batter's box. The pitcher threw him two perfect strikes that he just watched sail by. Then he fouled off a couple pitches. This was followed by three balls, mostly low and away. Finally, he received a dandy right down the pipeline and hit it a mile over the left field fence. Home run for the Giants! Some of their fans in the left field bleachers did this flowery type of dance.

A few innings went by. Back and forth, the teams exchanged leads. By the end of the fifth inning, the score was Giants 5, Dodgers 4. The next couple of innings were non-eventful. It was time for the Seventh Inning Stretch. Some of the fans started their Sunrise Yoga exercises. The public address announcer started chanting "Ommmmm" over the loud speakers. "Ommmmm Mane Padne Ommmmm ... Ommmmm Mane Padne Ommmmm". The crowd chanted the mantra in unison.

The game resumed. Bottom of the seventh, top and bottom of the eighth, and top of the nighth. A few past life regressions, timeless eternities, and wisdom uttered by the ancient sages could not in any shape or form substitute for the lack of action in those innings. Only a couple of infield hits. Looked like the Giants were going to lose.

Then came the bottom of the ninth. It went on forever. A lot of foul balls. The game didn't end.

It was a game for the ages.

Written March 7, 2007