Ritual or Ridiculous?
At this current moment I’m watching the Cubbies and the Brewcrew, and after watching Ryan Braun pop-out to first base, I have a nostalgic moment. I think back to Sunday School at church and singing the song “Father Abraham”. I’m sure many of us remember this song, as it helps us remember historically where we came from. But beyond that, it gave every child with ADD an excuse to shake and move every body part known to man and spin in circles until completely dizzy and possibly throw up all of the consumed kool-aid and nilla wafers. As I watched Ryan Braun at the plate, I started to wonder if he was singing the baseball version of Father Abraham just before he steps to the plate. After every pitch is thrown, Braun steps out of the box, bends over, rubs his hands in the dirt, adjusts both batting gloves, steps into the batters box, touches about 5 different parts of his uniform with his hand before finally setting into his batting stance for the pitch.
I can’t help but be extremely annoyed by this ritual. Why can’t a batter just step into the box, put the bat over his shoulder, and wait for the pitch? In Little League, if I worried about re-adjusting my velcro cleats after every pitch, I would forget what the count was, miss a sign by the 3rd base coach, or just miss the pitch all together. Players like Ryan Braun, Nomar Garciaparra, and Jim Thome force the question: How do the pre-batting rituals actually help?
Part of me wonders if the ritual distracts the pitcher so much, that it causes him to lose focus over his groove. Or maybe it helps the batter zone in on the pitcher. Or maybe it is some secret sign that says to the batter’s wife and kids over the TV that “i love you”. Utah Jazz player Jeff Hornacek would wipe the side of his face before every free throw to tell his kids “i love you”. What if whenever David Ortiz stepped into the batting box, he grabbed his crotch to tell his kids how much he loved them? Does he even have any kids? Back to the topic at hand. I can’t help but wonder if players stopped “ritualizing” that we would save several minutes off of the baseball game. There’d be no tapping of the plate 5 times, no kicking of dirt, walking away from the plate, adjusting batting gloves, etc…
This is just some food for thought. Now, before I get back to watching the Cubs, I am going to go lock and unlock the deadbolt of my front door 8 times, and then do 2 jumping jacks.