Here I am once again testing my theory that if you put the words “The Zen of” in the title of anything, tons of people will be interested in it. Since this is about Zen and Baseball both of which all people love, I expect to get many hits today, and let me tell you hits are foremost on my mind. While many are keeping their eye on and discussing the political races leading up to the November election, there is another race going on that is of paramount importance, and of course, I am referring to the race to the World Series.
The most important question in this race is what will be the fate of the New York Yankees. I don’t believe I need to tell any of the highly intelligent readers of this blog that the New York Yankees are the greatest baseball team in the history of the game, or that many of their players have actually walked on water. For those who may have been residing on another planet for most of their lives, I will list some of the major reasons why the NY Yankees are the world’s greatest baseball team: Babe Ruth, Lou Gerhig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Roger Maris, Reggie Jackson, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, and the two greatest managers of all time, Casey Stengel and Joe Torre.
The Yanks are behind in the ALCS to the Rangers and that’s why I’m concerned about getting lots of hits today. The Bronx Bombers need to win the next two games to get into the World Series. Can they do it? The world waits with bated breath . . .
So, what does baseball have to do with Zen? If you play baseball in Japan, a lot. It seems that the majority of Japanese baseball players are Buddhists, although they may not be Zen, it’s close enough.
Now the Yanks had a great Japanese player on the team for some years, Hideki Matsui, nicknamed “Godzilla.” I don’t know if he is a Buddhist or not, but as far as I am concerned he was a home run king in the true Yankees tradition and why they let him go is beyond me. He plays for the Angels now.
One of Japan’s best players was Sadaharu Oh, who at the age of 70 is retired. His 868 home runs set an all-time record in that country. In 1984 he wrote a book entitled A Zen Way of Baseball. I have not read it but I understand it’s very good and one doesn’t need to be a baseball fan to enjoy it. Here is a review I found on ESPN.
I looked for but could not find any excerpts from the book online, however I did run across these quotes from Sadaharu Oh:
The opponents and I are really one. My strength and skills only half of the equation. The other half is theirs. An opponent is someone whose strength joined to yours creates a certain result.
My baseball career was a long, long initiation into a single secret: At the heart of all things is love.
I have to admit that it’s exciting to see the Rangers, on the brink of playing in their first World Series, doing so well. I just hope the Yankees do better.
Of course, in order to prepare myself for the possible onslaught of suffering that will follow an unfavorable outcome for my team, I am keeping in mind the immortal words of Abner Doubleday, founder of baseball and existentialist thinker, who once said, “Don’t take the world serious.”