Slo Time/Fast Time

Watching my grandchildren play is a joy — even if it is only online — not only because they are my grandchildren, but also because they are in the slow time of youth, a time when minutes can be days and days are almost a lifetime, a time when sights and smells and tastes linger like fine wines and expensive perfumes, a time when a baseball aimed to go by at speeds well above that allowed on the interstate seems like a beach ball carried around by a wafting breeze.

You know, not slow time but Slo Time. 

It’s the time we bleacher bums try to recapture as we watch others play the game of our youth. To those who are fortunate enough to play it, it is the time of spring training, warm days when a slow game is slowed down even more, a time of youth, remembrance and celebration.

In many ways, spring training is more important than the rest of the season. Without its Slo Time, the season might well be impossible.

When this crisis passes — and it will — the next time you are at a ball field, walk to the batter’s box and look at the mound. Feel just how close it seems. Think about someone throwing a ball anywhere from 70 to 100 mph past you and that you are supposed to put your round bat on that round ball and hit it squarely. Think about the impossibility of that task.

Unless, that is, you have entered Slo Time.

In Slo Time, you have time to watch the ball rotate, almost time to count the stitches, time to judge where the ball is going, time to decide whether to offer at it or not. Time is your ally. You control it. You are one with it. It is an amazing feeling that only the young can have.

That’s why many ballplayers are finished before they physically are unable to play the game. Time has sped up for them and will only continue to speed up as they age. The ball now whizzes by at dizzying speeds, and they simply cannot catch up with it.

The baseball powers that be want to speed up the game. All of them are well past playing age, as are the people who watch it. Time has become the enemy. There aren’t enough hours or minutes in the day to do all that needs doing. Slo Time is only a distant memory. 

Baseball cannot be played in Fast Time. Spring training is not about relearning to do what a player has been doing since he could pick up a bat. Spring training is about re-entering Slo Time, a time everything about being young and potent becomes a game the rest of us are invited into so that we can relive our youth when minutes can be days and days last forever. 

Now, with baseball a distant memory and future hope, with enforced isolation and social distancing, it may be a time to re-enter Slo Time and think about what the world has to offer without even taking a seat in the bleachers.

Millerton resident Theodore Kneeland is a former teacher and coach — and athlete.

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