Sometimes You Gotta Heed the Warning Track


Warning track in front of out-of-town scoreboard at PNC Park

A sudden change in carpet texture beneath her feet alerted her that she was three yards from the exit. The warning track, as it was called by Peter Solomon, an avid baseball fan.  Trish stopped short, pulled out her key card, and groped in the darkness along the wall until she found the raised slot and inserted her card.  ~ Dan Brown, The Lost Symbol

I love it when art imitates life, or, rather, when art imitates baseball.  A friend alerted me to the above passage from a Dan Brown novel.  The warning track, according to The Dickson Baseball Dictionaryis the track in front of the outfield fence, the purpose of which is to “protect outfielders from crashing into the wall as they back up to catch a ball.  With his eyes fixed on the ball, a player knows he is nearing the wall as he senses the granular texture of the warning track with his feet.” 

Outfield fence and warning track, Bowie Baysox StadiumIgnoring the warning track and barreling into the outfield wall might get you the out you need against the opposing team, but sometimes it comes at a price.  Like yesterday, when the Angels’ Torii Hunter slammed into the outfield wall while chasing down a fly ball hit by Gaby Sanchez, bruising his ribs.  “I have to catch it at all costs,” Hunter said.  “But I paid for it.”  X-rays showed that Hunter is mostly fine, but he’ll be out for at least a couple of days.   

In life, however, sometimes we need to heed our personal warning tracks, even when the thrill of the catch is just a little too tempting.  Like this past week when I:  flew to Houston on Tuesday, hung out with a friend, saw my most favorite band from Spain in concert that night, toured Johnson Space Center and attended an Astros game the next day, all before flying home on Thursday; went shopping and got mani-pedis with another friend on Friday; took a mini-road trip in my car with nearly non-existent air conditioning to see my beloved Bowie Baysox play the Flying Squirrels the very next day; spent Sunday catching up on everything from laundry to food prep for the week (while watching the Orioles defeat the Nationals on TV); went to work and the gym on Monday; crashed from exhaustion and called in sick on Tuesday (though still making it to dance class Tuesday night); and then went to Baltimore on Wednesday for the U2 concert from which I did not get home until after 1 a.m. this morning.

There are plenty of life lessons to be learned from baseball, if we choose to be enlightened.  I ignored the warning track after Houston, kept on going, and crashed big-time into life.  Now I’m exhausted and have a throbbing headache and laryngitis.  I had fun, but, like Torii, “I paid for it.” 

~ baseballrebecca

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