I’d hate to be thought of as superfluous

If you and I agreed on everything, one of us wouldn’t be needed.

Of the many special things associated with growing up in this country, one is held dearly by every American eight-year old male who owned a flashlight and an AM transistor radio with an earplug. During those long hot summer nights when the adults sat on the back stoop nursing a bottle of Carling and waiting for their window air conditioners to suck out enough of the heat to make the inside of the house bearable, thousands of boys across the country lay under their bed covers, with a flimsy plastic earplug dangling from their ear as they continued to turn the dial to tune in the lone radio station covering the home team. In spite of the static, they faithfully kept score for their favorite baseball team in the back of their black and white Composition notebook.

The scorecard was homemade, carefully drafted using a pencil and something relatively straight to draw the lines that separated each of the nine innings. Unlike today, when the concept of team has given way to the concept of personnel whose loyalty lies with the highest bidder—free agents, the lineup for the home team rarely changed by more than a player, the pitcher, and had been mostly the same for years.

My team was the Baltimore Orioles. Their team pennant hung on my wall, a team photo was on my dresser along with my membership card to the Junior Orioles. Under the blanket with me was my taped-up shoe box containing my collection of baseball trading cards, sorted by team and held together by rubber bands I had removed from the Baltimore Sun. A few hundred stale sticks of the pink powdered bubble gum that came with each five-pack of cards was stacked neatly in one end of the box. The cards for the opposing team were spread before me so I could get the lineup and study their batting statistics.

What made me think of this was that yesterday my son and I went to see a minor league game. Although the grass was just as green, and the hot dogs smelled the same, nothing was the same. Still, it beat a stick in the eye. Things change. Baseball changed, and nobody conferred with me before changing it. I didn’t see a single person keeping a scorecard, let alone a dad teaching his son or daughter how to keep it. The only constant throughout the game was the commercialization, to the point where it made it difficult to simply follow the game.

That’s progress. Or maybe not. Some progress is good. Some progress doesn’t exist even though everybody around it believes that it does. Buying technology doesn’t in and of itself confer progress, it simply means you bought more technology. For those who are so fond of metrics, look up some ten-year old figures and see. See if patient satisfaction has increased. Still not convinced? Add up all the money you’ve spent on improvements and technology during those ten years and divide it by the percentage of decrease or increase of any decent metric. Was it worth it? I bet not.

Ray, people will come Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won’t mind if you look around, you’ll say. It’s only $20 per person. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.
-Terrance Mann in the movie, “Field of Dreams”

saint Paul M. Roemer
Chief Imaginist, Healthcare IT Strategy

1475 Luna Drive, Downingtown, PA 19335
+1 (484) 885-6942

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