My local baseball outfit the Minnesota Twins are in the playoffs. But probably not for long. The Yankees are rolling over them downhill and are up 2-0 in the best of five series outscoring the Twins 18-6 along the way. Yankee Stadium has hosted the first two games and we are all a little hopeful that the Twins can pull one back tomorrow night on their homefield and at least keep things interesting for a few more days.
I didn’t watch a single day of the India-South Africa Test. The match times all happened while I slept, and in the mornings I was busy and would forget to check the scores and I just saw the final tally and that India had more or less wiped the floor with South Africa on their own patch, despite some valiant first innings batting from the hosts.
This morning I watched Arsenal beat Bournemouth 1-0 in London. They were able to hang on after a very early goal gave them the lead. Bournemouth looked bored for the first hour so, but they turned it on late and I more than half expected them to at least draw level but Arsenal’s shaky defense saw it through to the end. Three points, safely banked, on to the international break.
Right now I am on the porch and watching the Caribbean Premier League. St. Kitts versus Trinidad in an eliminator in front of a mostly empty but still somehow festive atmosphere in Providence, Guyana. I have always found it odd that cricket is played at this high of a level in South America. The other bit of trivia is that it’s the only English speaking nation in South America. I didn’t think there were any, but there you go.
I mention all of this because it’s funny how sport just runs in the background of our lives. I didn’t watch a single inning of the first Twins playoff game as I don’t get the channel on Hulu. I listened on the radio until they went too far behind. I watched only an inning or two of the second game. I had plans. Lenny Holley at the Walker Art Center. The majority of the game happened while I was having a glass of wine at Esker Grove before the show. As mentioned, I didn’t watch a single delivery of the India vs South Africa. But it still happened, running behind the scenes as slept fitfully, dreaming, waking to morning dark. I watched the Arsenal first half. But then breakfast was ready so I turned it off and ate and had coffee and cleaned up the kitchen and then turned the game back on in the 75th minute to watch Arsenal hang on just. At noon today I have a yoga class and then lunch and then a walk on this beautiful fall day, so I will mist the majority of the second innings of the CPL match currently streaming on the tab just to the left of this one.
There’s of course the old adage about trees falling in woods and does it make a sound if no one is there to hear it? You know, the kind of stuff that blows the minds of 12 year olds. And there’s also Schrödinger’s cat, which is more of thought experiment on paradoxes but still maybe more fitting here. If I don’t watch the games, do they still happen? Of course they do. Does the fact that I either watch or not affect the outcome? Of course not. I mean. Our actions and our movements and our decisions create ripples all over the world, but turning off Arsenal at half time didn’t stop Bournemouth from drawing level or Arsenal from making it safe.
But still. They run in the background. These games. And if we don’t watch, they more or less are not happening, at least not as far as we are concerned. And we are the people who follow these sports, what about the people who don’t? All of these games happening behind the scenes and billions of people are just living their lives, scarcely the slightest bit aware of their existence. You know, like Hobbits. Or whatever. And that is just sport. All over the world, all the time, life is happening, huge swaths of it, and most of it flies under most of our radars. Not, for the most part, really even existing.
Today there is a cricket match on the continent of South America, in a stadium over looking the Demerara river, which flows into the Atlantic ocean, just a few hundred meters away. St Kitts and Nevis are 54-3 after 10 overs. There is an American playing. Ali Khan. He was born in Pakistan in a city called Attock, not far from the Afghanistan frontier. He’s taken a wicket in three overs bowled, and allowed just nine runs. And that’s just one small story of the game. There’s a dozen more just like it. Maybe five dozen. Maybe an infinite number. All of it happening. Really happening. Making those ripples around the world, even though only a relative handful of people know of its existence. And it’s just one cricket game, with infinite stories, while other infinite stories are taking place the world over. In football matches. War zones. Hospitals. The rise and fall of the human drama, all of it. Happening. Whether we watch or not. Billions of lives, living, of which we are just a drop in the sea, dipping our toes into other seas, trying to find significance in an insignificant and vast ocean of infinite ripples in all directions.
Cricket teaches us a lot, if we let it. Patience, nuance. But more than anything it teaches us that the world is very large, impossibly large. And that life is long, impossibly long at times. Today there is a cricket match in Guyana. And within those three hours that the game is taking place, the entire world will change. And change again. The same world that doesn’t even know that it’s happening.