Crisis and Kairos
Garrett Buechele: Baseball at Work
While football might be described as a spectacle of brute force between men who execute carefully choreographed plays, baseball is a thinking man's game. It is a game of inches that changes moment by moment based on split second plays that can make or break a player. It is a game of patience and endurance; a game that requires a sustained skill set that must continuously improve; a game that teaches (and demands) humility. For every home run, there can often be multiple strikeouts. Buechele is quick to admit that the game has humbled him. "If there is one thing I have learned, it is that things can change quickly for you in this game," he states.
While at Oklahoma, Buechele developed an ability to lead other players in ways that created a unity of heart that was palpably evident to those who watched him play. It was a common occurrence to see him shake a fellow player's hand when they made an extraordinary play or give a verbal shout of encouragement to someone who had just made an error. The volatility of the game became the thrill for this young man who was known in the clubhouse as a premier prankster. It was not uncommon to find a team member's cleat in the freezer or their clothes turned inside out. The culprit was usually quickly revealed, because such creativity could only come from one person—Garrett Buechele.
Since being drafted by the San Francisco Giants, he has found himself in a new world of challenges. On the Oklahoma campus in Norman, he was regarded as a celebrity. As a rookie in the Major League Baseball system, he often stands alone as he plays amidst cutthroat competition where one too many mistakes might find him cut from the team. No matter. His drive remains undaunted, as evidenced by his regimen of conditioning that he maintains with a discipline that is masked by his approachable demeanor and bearing.
In his book, The Numbers Game, Alan Schwarz states that baseball "is the most individual of team sports: in perfectly discernible packets the game reduces to one batter versus one pitcher." This is the reality that Buechele loves the most about baseball. It drives him to succeed where others have failed, and this remains his constant pursuit: to one day stand in the batter's box before a pitcher in the World Series.
In an era when money and contracts seemingly erode the bond of loyalty between athletes and their admirers, there is still a closeness that baseball fans maintain with their favorite players. With Buechele this is obvious. He can always be found—even after a particularly disappointing game—lingering on the field signing autographs for young fans long after his teammates have gone to the clubhouse. There is a sense that he carries a mantle of service that transcends his performance between the lines. His faith, courage, perseverance, and leadership have marked him as one of the best examples of what the uniquely American game of baseball provides for the nation: a dogged determination that, whatever setbacks it may face, simply refuses to quit.