Existentialism on Game Night: The struggle for control
Life is mitigated chaos. It's mostly disjointed noise and arbitrary action that we attempt to ascribe meaning to, often fruitlessly. But there are salves for the existential burning; structures we employ to navigate the static. Baseball, with its rules and order, is one of the good ones. It makes sense.
And then Pedro Alvarez hits a ball that lands directly beneath him, claimed by the Earth as its own, and the universe reminds humanity of its humble place in the world.
These are the moments of lapse in our carefully curated baseball, the moments when we stare into the vastness of the universe, feel its absolute presence bend us to its will and choose to struggle anyway, to grasp for autonomy, to say, "No, we are in control." This is existentialism on game night.
It begins on June 5, as A's pitcher Pat Venditte prepares to take the mound. He breaks the shackles of identity that the universe thrusts upon us. He is not a left-handed pitcher or a right-handed pitcher. He is whatever he wants to be.
He feeds on the chaos.
But the universe does not appreciate such a mutiny. In retaliation three days later, a pair of baseballs is sent flying at Jason Vargas simultaneously.
Others were not so lucky.
A week later, Didi Gregorious fouls off a pitch and attempts to shatter reality.
Nate Karns throws a pitch, or maybe he doesn't. His throws will not be pigeonholed by a universe demanding labels.
Matt Kemp catches a fly ball in right field that sends him spinning to the ground. And then he keeps spinning -- he'll spin all day if he wants to.
Torii Hunter gazes into the abyss, takes a called third strike and chooses not to go gently into that good night.
Dee Gordon, conversely, does go gently. It is a silent protest.
Derek Norris stops a ball in its tracks with little more than his mind.
This is all to say that sometimes, the universe is the hawk and we are the grasshopper. But sometimes -- sometimes -- we're the hawk.