Go Ahead, Have an Affair

By Ryan Leake
September 23, 2011

“Man, I did love this game…It was a game…The sounds, the smells.  Did you ever hold a ball or a glove to your face?”  Shoeless Joe Jackson, Field of Dreams

Have you ever felt true love?  Real, genuine love?  Not creepy middle-school-crushes.  Not “first-time” infatuation.  And definitely not superfluous fluff full of “honeys”, “sweeties”, and “sugar pies” where the right arm is around your significant other and the left is busy texting the foreign girl two doors down.  I’m talking about love that leaves you mystified with emotion.  The kind of love that gets you lost in another’s eyes for hours on a Sunday morning.  Love so deep, so intrusive, that the mention of their name infuses your soul and exits your body in the comforting form of a smile.

That is rare.  Do you know anyone who has ever professed a love of such depth and unadulterated passion?  If you do I applaud that individual, and you, for experiencing something that comes around as often as an unassisted triple play.  Many have heard of such love but are resigned to stories written by Danielle Steele and Reese Witherspoon movies to achieve some sense of love-fulfilled.  But we all know life isn’t an ongoing romantic comedy where inevitably the cute little blond with the big heart will end up with the man of her dreams. Life can be unforgiving.  Unrelenting.  A ceaseless test of humanity’s willingness to survive, adapt, and sustain.  Life is unpredictable; which makes opening up and allowing someone else in an extremely difficult task.  So it came as no surprise that, when asked to fall in love with the game, Santa Clara’s Baseball players were visibly uncomfortable.

I’m going out on a limb and saying there were a few firsts for Santa Clara’s players this week.  First time talking to grass.  First time being 15 minutes early.  First time holding a meeting at 10:00pm.  And first time being asked to love anything.  They were asked in delicate terms; rather than being told to fall in love they were invited to have an affair with the game…to give it a try.  In a way they’re being asked to commit adultery…to give the girl with 108 stitches and rawhide a chance.  The catch (pun intended) is that no one is being asked to lie or sneak around.  This affair should be open and supported; it should not be construed as cheating.  The dialogue is forthcoming and honest:

Girlfriend: “Where were you last night?”

SCU Ballplayer: “Oh I’m sorry dear I missed game-night with the other couples, didn’t I?”

Girlfriend: “Yeah, everyone missed you…it’s not like you to be home so late…is there something going on?”

SCU Ballplayer: “To be honest I had a date…my coaches told me to try having an affair.”

Girlfriend: “OMG!  You pig!  With who!?”

SCU Ballplayer: “Well last night was with my bat…”

Girlfriend: “Last night?…There’s more than one?  I want to know the name of every tramp you’ve been with!”

SCU Ballplayer: “Ok, no problem…There’s my bat, my ball, my glove, my batting gloves, the grass, the dirt…should I go on?”

Girlfriend: “No, that’s fine…so you don’t want me anymore?”

SCU Ballplayer: “Of course I do…but I REALLY love baseball.”

(then, if you really have a keeper…)

Girlfriend: “That’s ok…just save some for me.”

Finding true love adds a degree of stability to the volatile nature of the world.  The hope in Santa Clara’s Baseball program is that each player finds, and latches on to, that love affair with the game.  You’re more motivated to attend class because you want to see the baseball field.  You’re more prepared for tests because if you don’t pass, you don’t hold your bat.  You don’t worry about a dispute with a friend because you know the grass will always be there to listen to your problems.  There’s no sense of inadequacy with women because: who needs ‘em when baseball gives more than any Pi Phi ever could.

The game becomes your ambition and your hope.  It motivates you to be a better person.  It becomes the purpose mankind so fervently desires.  It tantalizes you with its shades of green and allows the energy of its radiant hues to invigorate your being.  When baseball comes to life it nurtures and cares for you.  It’s a warm blanket on a cold night.  It’s a perfect remedy to recurring illness.  All the game needs in return is love; for the players to take a chance and have an affair.  If Santa Clara’s players allow themselves to fall in love, Baseball will reawaken and breathe new life.

— Coach Leake


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