I heard a story, though I freely admit it may be apocryphal. The tale says that shortly after acquiring Zack Greinke, his team's general manager went down to the clubhouse to check on his new ace. It was a game that Greinke didn't pitch, and it seemed a good time to get the tenor of the notoriously offbeat pitcher. So the GM, the man responsible for acquiring and potentially retaining him, is in the clubhouse looking for Greinke. He finally locates him, walking with head down towards something. The GM steps over, and starts his talk.
"Hey Zack, you've been with us for a few weeks and I wanted to check in with you and make sure you're feeling comfortable. Is there anything we can do for you to help you out as you get to know the clubhouse?"
Greinke, never breaking stride, nor looking up to make eye contact, strode right past the GM. Just as he passed him the pitcher raises is right arm, his pitching arm, and makes a simple "thumbs up", before continuing his journey to wherever it was he was headed. The GM and Greinke purportedly had little communication after that day.
Thanks to the nature of the sport, as one of equal parts skill and athleticism, and combined with its vast history, there is no game that has such a vast and diverse of people who have played it. What other game would allow a space on its biggest stages for not only a pitcher with one arm, but a hitter as well? Where else could you find Eddie Gaedel step in the same batter's box as Harmon Killebrew?
Baseball has been played by racists, war heroes, civil rights activists, criminals, union labor trailblazers, lawyers, doctors, and almost any other sociological or professional slice of American existence imaginable. Skinny players, overweight ones, tall, short, fast, slow, pitchers that dominate with 105 MPH fastballs, hitters that dominate through hitting ground balls at terrified infielders, on an on. The permutations and variety of ways to be "good" at baseball are as great and varied as the human species itself.
As the great Moneyball Revolution swept over the game in the last decade there came a moment when I, a lifetime passionate fan and student of the game, had to admit that there was a lot about baseball I maybe didn't understand. In the process of letting go of RBI, pitcher wins, and ERA I rediscovered both a thirst for knowledge in myself, and a respect and love for the game that had begun to wane.
None of us, truly, want to know it all. We need something to push us forward, a carrot of future growth to aspire to. We want each day, to be slightly better than who we were yesterday. Accepting how much I had to learn about the game I loved ignited a flurry of questions about all manner of things in my daily life and demanded a rigorous examination of many long held tenants of my personal philosophy. In many ways, Moneyball made me who I am today, for better or ill.
Abusers, drug users, politicians, artists, playwrights, jocks, and eccentrics. Tall, short, thin, fat, slow, fast, strong, and weak. White, brown, black, and every other pigment shade we have. Football is America's dominant spectator sport, it would be foolish to argue otherwise. But baseball is the game we, you, I, our friends, can play with a rolled up sock and a stick. It has been played longer and by a wider array of people than any game in our history. It is ours, the peoples, to have and enjoy anytime the sun peeks out, and many times when it does not. It is ours, and it is coming.