October 23, 2010

Baseball season and life

And yes, I am fully aware that my Yankees lost to the Texas Rangers last night. Eh, it happens. I can not and will not cheer for the Rangers, but they certainly deserved to win.

Last night, we watched Bull Durham, which is one of our favorite movies. Tightly written and without wasted scenes, it is one of the better sports movies out there. And I think I related to it because of the element of failure. I am Crash Davis in a different context--that of tenure track jobs. In fact, the film depresses me every time--at least just a little, because I feel his pain when a young person walks out of grad school into a tenure track job.

I wish this had the rest of the scene, but it is a great one.

After this, Crash introduces his friend Sandy who hit .376 one season in the minors. Crash himself has nearly set the record for home runs as a minor leaguer, but was only able to spend 20 some days in the majors, or "show."

Even better, and more apt, is the sense that Nuke actually deserves to go to the show. He has all the talents to succeed at the major league level, but the film suggests that despite his weaker physical skills, Crash would also make a great contribution if given the chance. His baseball intellect is far superior to those with greater talent.

I don't want to take this too far. I know full well that many of the people who landed tenure track jobs deserved them, and they will be much better "scholars" than I ever would. I don't have the drive to spend all of my time working on publications. But I also know a lot of people who, if I dare say so myself, are certainly no smarter than me, and some not even as smart, but were in the right place at the right time. Life has its unfairness, and that is not new.

When I step back from the ledge, I know that I rather enjoy my career in the minor leagues. I am a better teacher than many of my tenured colleagues, and my lifestyle gives me flexibility that few my age enjoy. Stability would be nice, but for now, it has worked for us.

I am also reminded, btw, of how little importance these things have when I watch friends around me struggle with loss or illness or tragedy. Job title is pretty meaningless in that context.