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MLB’S ALL STARS: Lessons for Life, Immigration and More

It was terrific fun if you watched this year’s MLBaseball All Star Game.  I missed some of it because I fell asleep. (I’m old.) But my favorite play (of what I saw) was when a pitch got away and went way above the catcher’s head. There was a runner on third who began heading home until he saw the ball had bounced directly back to the catcher, off a concrete wall, who bare handed it and immediately threw to third to which the runner was returning by sliding in hand first. It was the sort of play that happened so fast you almost missed it. The replay was great. The runner who got back safe (literally by a few inches) was Ramirez from Cuba. He was grinning all night…as usual.

He’s been traded around the league. I think he started with the Yankees a few years ago when he was recently come from Cuba. My little wife was wondering if he had proper immigration papers when it was announced his parents were present in Yankee Stadium and were seeing him play professional ball for the first time. A first outing in the World’s most famous Pinstripes. What a story. Great Americana.

He shoveled a gloved ball to second base for the first out in a double play. It was beautiful. But he looked a little strange. He was really skinny. But when you think about it you understand why. He was fresh from Castro’s Worker’s Paradise. Also known as Fidel’s Fat Farm. Everyone there, except Fidel and his whimpy brother, is “skinny.” All the beautiful Spanish Colonial architecture is falling to ruin and hasn’t had a daub of paint since the days of Bautista. 

There was a photo opportunity at last night’s game featuring the All Stars who were native Cubans. There were five including Ramirez. My wife wondered about the fact these guys can come here to pay ball. She’s a stickler for details. Like immigration paperwork compliance. (Don’t you wish the current bumbling administration was, too?) Is it just me or does a lot of the stuff Obama and his flunkies do seem more like a prank than real policy? Letting these kids come across without papers so they can vote for their “hand-out” benefactors some day seems like something a bunch of college sophomores dreamt up at a keg party while giggling like a bunch of girls. So does gun running for the Mexican cartels. So does that NSA spying on the citizens of our country and attacking conservative/tea party groups through the IRS. 

But the beautiful thing about those five Cubans playing ball in the USA is not whether they have complied with Immigration requirements. Could they possibly be making as much money as they do and the IRS missed the fact they aren’t enrolled in the IRS computers? Doubtful. The really beautiful thing is they are playing here. In America. America is the best place on Earth for lots of reasons. One of those reasons is the fact that our World Series may not really be the World series because only teams from America play in it, but it is the World Series because it is where the best players in the World play. There are great payers coming to America from all over the Globe doing the jobs American kids don’t want to do. Like playing shortstop for the Chicago White Sox and almost getting shot down on third base in the All Star Game. I forgot to mention Ramirez had gotten on first base by only an inch or two before he stole his way to third.

I’m glad all those guys are here. And I’m glad they can be free here as can their families. I hope they didn’t have to swim here in inner tubes to steal third base and the jobs our own video-playing kids can’t do anymore.

In sports a kid can learn a lot of lessons about life. The idea of baseball being “a game of inches” is a good thing to remember in other areas of life. 

One instance I remember was when my hands got caught in some farm equipment operating on the power takeoff of my Dad’s John Deere. He couldn’t see me or hear my screams because the tractor was running and I was small. When he saw what was happening he went into action like I’d never seen him do before. He went over a six foot fence with one hand and was back in  a flash with a crow bar. I only lost some flesh off my palms and kept both hands. They still operate today. Just an inch less clearance between the moving parts of that automated wagon bed and I would have lost more than palm flesh.

Another time when I was in college working on a Saturday I was in Terre Haute and slipped off a small rail on the side of a truck. As I slid suddenly down the side of the truck I hit my jaw on the vertical control of the tail gate power lift. It knocked me out. I was under, but could hear what was going on. I just wasn’t participating much. When they stitched up the cut on my throat just below my jaw the surgical nurse said, “Pretty close call, pal. There it is. I can see your jugular throbbing away. Another inch and we wouldn’t have to bother.” I was still out so it wasn’t as sobering as when I thought about it later. Just “an inch” from Eternity.

On another occasion my brother and I broke through the ice on the creek on our farm while we were exploring where Mom would not have approved…back in the woods around the creek. (Mom had a mortal fear of bodies of water because she had a cousin who had drowned. I am a lousy swimmer today because I think she transmitted her dread to me while I was still in  the oven.) Anyway…my brother and I survived only because the water depth was slightly less than we were tall at the age of ten and eight. Just a few inches deeper and we’d both have been gone. (Crossing that creek ice was my little brother’s idea. I wasn’t that dumb. I was just along because I was supposed to keep an eye on him because of my much greater life experience.)

A really graphic example of “inches” is seen in the life story of Marine sniper Carlos Hathcock. Carlos conducted a duel with a famous NVA sniper. He won the back and forth contest when he finally killed the NVA sniper by putting a bullet through the NVA sniper’s aiming eye. The round had gone through the sniper’s rifle scope. Which, of course, meant the NVA guy had been looking at Carlos through his own scope. Which meant Carlos had been a moment or an inch from being killed instead. 

When the future King of Israel killed the tall guy from Gath he won that fight by an inch or two. If his stone had gone an inch or two higher it would have struck Goliath’s helmet or his head, which I’m sure was pretty thick and boney. I guess it goes to show God is a God of inches, too. Or as the scripture refers to Him as “the God who hides Himself.”

Baseball is a “game of inches” and so is life, at least when God is directing things.

PS: In another situation where inches count it should be noted Ramirez has, thankfully, gained a few “inches” since being in this country for a few seasons. If he ever gets too heavy he can always go back to Fidel’s Fat Farm and drop a few.


Steve Bowers

Steve Bowers grew up on a farm in Indiana, attended Indiana University and went into the construction business. While working on a construction project at a law school he was appalled at how lawyers could screw stuff up on a simple building project. Thinking he could do better, Steve went to law school. He’s pretty naive.

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