Defending Mistakes

I dread the inevitable. I was going to say "I dread the inevitable expansion of instant replay in major league baseball" (inevitable because of the watershed moment earlier this week of Jim Joyce's blown call of what should have been the last out in Armando Galarraga's attempt to pitch a perfect game), but I decided to stop and insert a period after the first four words because they seemed to have accidentally, perhaps you could say mistakenly, hit on a greater personal truth beyond the more pointed thesis I intended to hammer home with terse, manly, bracing clarity today. I'll get to the expanded version of my intended opening sentence in a moment, I hope, but first let me digress (for digressing is the closest I'll ever get to finding a refuge from doom) and say that I dread the inevitable. I dread the end. I dread the unstoppable march toward the end. I wish I could press a button and stop time.

But you can't stop time and you can't even really digress much these days, because who wants to sit around reading long, looping, allusive sentences that suddenly veer off target to reach for things that are lost for good, like one of the mushy baseballs my brother and I used to buy at the general store down the road and then knock into the tall baseball-eating grass where our sheep grazed (Virginia was her name, and she was in some ways the symbolic center of my family's 1970s back-to-the-land dream, which eventually failed [symbolically ending the day Virginia came home in little white packages that everyone was too sad to ever eat] and in failing became eligible to be deemed, in retrospect, a mistake, perhaps even something to have been avoided, had there been some technological, time-stopping means of doing so), the loss of one of the mushy balls always seeming like the product of some mistake that disabled our flimsy two-boy game and opened us back up to the fading of the light from the sky, the end of the day, the march of time, the inevitable -- I mean who wants to get involved in that kind of melancholy textual aimlessness these days what with all the other quick-hitting entertainment opportunities available?

So enough! I came here not to waste precious time but to argue! Specifically! About something! And that something is the inevitable expansion of the use of instant replay in major league baseball!

Only a moron and/or a societal outcast could argue against the inevitable expansion of the use of instant replay in major league baseball at this point, given the evidence in favor of such an expansion provided by the historically freighted judgment call that the human in the position of authority, Jim Joyce, got wrong. But I guess I am that moron and/or societal outcast. Something about the profoundly boring and predictable nature of the uproar over the event, and the uproar-fueling media-led mob-march toward legislating in rules to make everything smooth as an android's skin, has me wanting to argue in defense of mistakes.

Maybe mistakes are our only divergence from the inevitable. I mean, in the vastness of barren space, this tiny blue globe of vibrant life stands out as a brief, inexplicable mistake. And everywhere on this earth, mistakes key strange, unexpected growth. Jazz singer Jon Hendricks once said, "It wouldn't be jazz without the mistakes." Christopher Columbus found this continent by mistake. Judging from my mother and father's separation from one another in the 1970s, a separation that suggested the original coupling was a bad call, my very existence was the product of a mistake. My parents' attempt during that mistake-filled decade to establish a utopian life in the country, in which we would grow all our own food, also proved to be untenable, another mistake, though I trace the deepest loves and joys and hopes of my life to the love and joy and hope embedded in that mistake.

In the years of that continuous mistake, my childhood, I poured myself into baseball, absorbing a vast colorful world not through telecasts of games stripped clean of mistakes but through homely, error-pocked baseball cards and through books and through static-ridden radio broadcasts of games and through numbers and through my own weedy, distorting imagination. Thusly, baseball got into my bones, mistakes and all, and grew to the point where I can't tell where my own self ends and baseball begins. But if, or when, baseball games begin to resemble the drudgery of professional football -- brief moments of action giving way constantly to officials gathered around a video monitor -- I will finally know where I end and where a slicker, more sterile version of my favorite game begins. And I don't want to know where I end.