On the corner ‘Lent, spring and baseball’

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By Robert Docter, Editor-In-Chief


They all come together. What joy!

Lent doesn’t receive much attention in the Army. Most of us think of it as a Roman Catholic observance. We are only reminded of it as some brave friend moves through a particular Wednesday with a smudged forehead. We inhibit our desire to mention their facial “dirt” as Ash Wednesday comes to mind. Then, suddenly, guilt arises, its motivating presence making us wonder whether or not we would have that level of faith and obedience.

(I mean, c’mon—how many of our non-officer soldiers wear their uniforms to work even one day a year?)

Protestantism’s historic and significant conflict with the celebration of the Lenten season began to dissipate in the 20th century with an increased interest by Protestant churches in more formal and classical forms of worship. The conflict itself was not with Lent as a time of “prayer, penance, sacrifice and good works,” but with what is perceived as Rome’s creation of “manifold regulations over Scripture.” I understand there is even something called the “Ecumenical Miracle Rosary” available.

Lent, a 40-day period prior to Easter, could be a time of individual and community preparation for the important sacrificial fact of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.

The word lent means spring, that time of year when earth is preparing to give back, when the beauty of life springs from the soil, when winter melts into spring and spirits resurrect in the warmth and beauty, the smell of life awakening.

The birds, dancing together in flight, diving to perch in a tree, sound a message of spring’s arrival. The purity of the lilies, springing forth atop a delicate green spear, trumpets a brilliant fanfare and announces the majesty of spring.

Where I live, the long, cold, wet, snow-packed winter of 2011 formally and finally came to its hoped-for end somewhere between 4 and 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 20, accompanied by a record-breaking, drenching, pouring, slashing rain.


With spring comes baseball

Concurrently with spring’s arrival, winter’s closing gasp blessed our thirsty state with a super-sized snowfall in the Sierras that might even ease water rationing. For just a few brief days it stilled the magic melody of wooden bats striking tightly wound leather balls and sending them aloft to scatter the birds. Oh, what a sound.

Yes, it’s spring. Opening day appears on calendars, planning ensues concerning ticket purchases as fans pour avidly over carefully preserved schedules, and hopes for the home team stretch far beyond what any rational judgment could imagine.

Men in white polish the groomed diamond to perfection. The emerald grass sparkles with its own mysterious beauty, exuding a blissful smell more beautiful than baking bread. Soon the vendors in the stands will sing their songs of expectation and delight.

Spring is here and baseball, once again, invades our every thought, saturates our dreams, and consumes every conversation.

George Carlin penned a magnificent monologue contrasting baseball and football. I include it here for your enjoyment.


Baseball and football are the two most popular spectator sports in this country. As such, it seems they ought to be able to tell us something about ourselves and our values.

I enjoy comparing baseball and football:

Baseball is a nineteenth-century pastoral game.
Football is a twentieth-century technological struggle.

Baseball is played on a diamond, in a park. The baseball park!
Football is played on a gridiron, in a stadium, sometimes called Soldier Field or War Memorial Stadium.

Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life.
Football begins in the fall, when everything’s dying.

In football you wear a helmet.
In baseball you wear a cap.

Football is concerned with downs—what down is it?
Baseball is concerned with ups—who’s up?

In football you receive a penalty.
In baseball you make an error.

In football the specialist comes in to kick.
In baseball the specialist comes in to relieve somebody.

Football has hitting, clipping, spearing, piling on, personal fouls, late hitting and unnecessary roughness.
Baseball has the sacrifice.

Football is played in any kind of weather: rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog…
In baseball, if it rains, we don’t go out to play.

Baseball has the seventh inning stretch.
Football has the two-minute warning.

Baseball has no time limit: we don’t know when it’s gonna end—might have extra innings.
Football is rigidly timed, and it will end even if we’ve got to go to sudden death.

In baseball, during the game, in the stands, there’s kind of a picnic feeling; emotions may run high or low, but there’s not too much unpleasantness.
In football, during the game in the stands, you can be sure that at least 27 times you’re capable of taking the life of a fellow human being.

And finally, the objectives of the two games are completely different:

In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy’s defensive line.

In baseball the object is to go home! And to be safe!—I hope I’ll be safe at home!


EDS ready to serve

EDS ready to serve

Western Territory Emergency Disaster Services respond to the Japan earthquake

TRIPLE DISASTER -Relief efforts in Japan continue

TRIPLE DISASTER -Relief efforts in Japan continue

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