Nov. 24, 2016
3 Ways Rain Delays Have Improved My Life
If you’re from Arizona, you love a good rainy day. They are like a holiday. People open up their garages, set up their chairs, and gather their family together to watch the rain fall as if it were their very own personal parade. When you live in a desert that’s often in drought conditions, water falling from the sky is a big deal. So, we shut everything down. Recess at schools are canceled, the TV anchors on all the local news stations go nuts, with their weather team essentially doing a hostile takeover of the entire station. Its got to be comical for visitors from places like Seattle or New York. We simply just don’t know what to do with ourselves.
As a true Arizonan, I love the rain, with one exception. I hate rain during a baseball game. As a player and spectator, rain is simply the bane of the game. (I’m good at rhyming!) When rain is falling as a player, it can be obnoxious to play. Beads of water start forming on the end of your ball cap. Do you know how hard it is to stay focused when you’ve got droplets of water forming on the brim of your hat? Its nigh unto impossible to ignore. The grass gets really slippery on the infield and there is bound to be a divot in the outfield that fills up with water that no one can see, until you have to make a play on a flyball in left center. I’ve played where it was just so damp that every bit of contact with the ball just hurt my hands to the point where I wasn’t too upset if I just went down swinging. It just becomes a sloppy mess. I mean come on, this isn’t football!
If the rain keeps up too long, the umpire will finally call the game or have a rain delay if the system is expected to pass. I’ve even seen pre-emptive rain delays because they knew that rain system was coming and it would be passing through quickly. This was the case during the World Series. Instead of waiting for things to get too bad, they brought the tarp on the field and just waited for the rain to come and go before they got on with the game.
Rain delays are unavoidable (assuming you don’t play in a domed stadium). As of now, there is nothing we can do about stopping the rain from falling from the sky. Sure there are several stadiums in the Majors that have roofs, but there are hundreds of minor league, college, high school, and little league fields without a roof. So, how do we deal with those unavoidable, powerless situations that occur?
Rain Delays have taught me three different positive reactions.
Take the break in the action to loosen up a bit.
There is usually nothing entertaining about a rain delay, especially if you’re watching on television. The normal protocol is for the broadcasters to talk for as long as they can, and then when they have run out of anything to say for the third time, they go to reruns of Andy Griffith or if you’re lucky, a baseball bloopers show. If you’re on the field, there are few options. The most common one is to go back into the clubhouse and chat or play cards. Something to pass the time. On the rare occasion, you’ll see the goofballs (yellow personalities) take the field in the rain. Do you know what a tarp with water is? It's a slip and slide. If you haven’t seen grown professional athletes run on the giant slip n slide, you’ve missed out. I’ve also seen other shenanigans such as human bowling, duck duck goose and jousting. It’s fun and a way to blow off steam when there is obvious disappointment about the rain delay.
When life gives its own delays, wouldn’t it be fun to do the same? We get delays all the time. Waiting for doctor's appointments to begin, flat tires, Xbox system updates, and paint to dry. There are so many delays in our lives that we simply have no control over. Instead of doing what so many people do, complain and whine (if you don’t believe me, check your Facebook and Twitter feeds), you could have some fun. We’re so afraid of having fun. Okay, I’m so afraid of having fun. I sometimes get the feeling that if I am not as miserable as possible during a delay or inconvenience, then I’m doing something wrong. In reality, the opposite is true!
If you’re lucky enough to have some covered or protected space, it's easy to stay loose and practice. Many ball players will go into the hitting tunnel down below the stadium and take swings in the cage. This keeps them loose and allows for a bit of extra practice time. Some guys will throw. Some guys will go over game plans or “talk shop”. There is a sense that if there’s time to spare, use it to get better.
I’ve been stuck on buses in college that were taking way too long to get me back to the parking lot after class. So, I’ve used the time to do some extra studying. I’ve taken time while in a traffic jam to make some phone calls or even check my email. (The cars were not moving, just so you know I was safe.) There is nothing wrong with using some unexpected time to either get ahead of the game or catch up on things that have required some attention, but lacked opportunity. If you are one that keeps track of priorities and important tasks, you can make use of any unexpected “free time”.
Rally the troops.[Jason Heyward's speech spurs Cubs during World Series Game 7 rain delay]
Jason Heyward had one of the best known rain delay activities in recent memory. During Game 7 of the World Series, there was a rain delay between the 9th and 10th innings. The Cubs had lost a lot of momentum in the game. The Cleveland Indians had climbed their way back to tie the game at 6, when at one point they were down 5-1. Jason Heyward pulled the team together and had a quick meeting. He took the opportunity to remind his teammates that he was so proud of them and cared for them. He reminded them that they still had a job to do. It must have worked because the Cubs came out and put 2 runs on the Indians and went on to win 8-7.
There are times when things look bleak that a delay is like one of those “Unanswered Prayers” that Garth Brooks sings about. My wife and I have used that time to get back on the same page and remind each other how much we love each other. Those special times are great because amidst the pressure and angst, it is just a moment to refocus and bring clarity back to mind.
These three lessons I have learned from rain delays are important to me, because life can come at me so fast. When I recognize the opportunity that a “delay” brings, I am always a better man for it. Here in the Valley of the Sun, I don’t get a lot of rain delays, but I know how to better handle the other delays that are inevitable.