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The Way is Empty

Heaven and earth are enduring. The reason why heaven and earth can be enduring is that they do not give themselves to life. Hence they are able to be long-lived.

Therefore the sage puts his person last and it comes first,
Treats it as extraneous to himself and it is preserved.

Is it not because he is without thought of self that he is able to accomplish his private ends?

-Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter VII

Modern baseball is made of concrete and paper, glinting with pride and sweat. Earl Weaver is our Ayn Rand, the eternal opportunist: champion of a world where the individual and the society combine, and selfishness mingles with virtue. The victors rise to their rightful place, while the bones of Mark Prior and Dickie Thon gleam in the arid dust.

Gone are the days when the nameless uncarved block is but freedom from desire. We’re ruled by ambition rather than sacrifice, and the bunt earns -0.02 WPA.

And yet if justice truly existed in this world, selflessness would be rewarded. The colors and sounds in the video below would represent something that has actually happens, rather than the flickering of lights against the cave wall.

Happily, I can report that beauty does lie in incongruity and that two men in fact did find the Way. The first of these took place during the All-Star game of 1938. I will leave the story to the great John Lardner:

That seventh frame was most distressing to every loyal American Leaguer. McCormick greeted old Mose with a single. Lippy Leo Durocher laid down a pretty bunt in the direction of James Emory Foxx, the Mauler of Margate, Md., who had shifted from first base to third to make room Louis Gehrig.

Foxx charged in, fielded the ball, and threw it straight at Bob Feller, who was warming up in the American League bullpen, miles away. Nobody knows what Foxx has got against Feller, but he almost beaned him. While joe DiMaggio chased the ball, McCormick scored from first. And when DiMaggio let fly with unerring aim for the National League dugout, Durocher came prancing home.

Astros relief pitcher Brian Williams accomplished something similar to this feat on April 27, 1993, but because John Lardner did not write about it, I will consider this description sufficient.

Perhaps someone will once again find the Way. One can envision Durocher running, his eyes closed, at peace amid the cries and chaos. As Lao Tzu nearly said, the bunt home run is very easy to understand and very easy to put into practice, yet no one in the world can understand it or put it into practice. I know, it doesn’t sound right. But think about it for a while.