Hello and welcome to another edition of The Good Press, a newsletter of observations about life, sports, and/or anything else that comes to mind.
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Maybe it’s just that it’s springtime and the weather is pleasant, but this time of year, I’ve got baseball on the mind. Well, more than usual, at least. These sunny-but-chilly, windbreaker-weather days evoke early-season baseball to me. One particular baseball term came to me and was on my mind as I was writing this week’s issue, the word that represents this week’s theme: Rally.
In baseball, a “rally” is when a team gets in a good groove on offense, with batter after batter coming up to the plate and getting a hit, drawing a walk, finding a way to reach base; anything to avoid making those dreaded outs. With only three outs to work with each inning at-bat, it’s not so easy for the batting team to make their way around the bases to score runs. Most innings end with no runs scored before three outs by the fielders. It’s why we often see many low-scoring baseball games, making every run scored so crucial.
That’s why a rally is such a coveted event in baseball, and why teams always try to do everything they can to get a rally started and keep a rally going.
Baseball players (and fans) can be pretty superstitious when their team has a rally going. Most famously, players and fans will wear their caps inside-out, backward, and/or sideways, any particular way that can keep the momentum on their side. It’s been a time-honored baseball tradition for decades, and it’s developed into a popular good-luck charm at baseball games everywhere.
Rally cap - Wikipedia
A rally cap is a baseball cap worn inside-out and backwards or in some other unconventional manner by players and/or…
A rally cap is a baseball cap worn inside-out and/or backward or in some other unconventional manner by players and/or fans superstitiously to will a team to a come-from-behind victory
Per Wiki, what the fabled “rally cap” really represents is being a team player:
Generally speaking, the belief behind the rally cap is to sacrifice a small amount of one’s dignity in exchange for a little luck for one’s team.
It may not be empirically proven that rally caps lead to more sustained or more frequent rallies… but it’s not empirically proven that they don’t lead to them.
To me, what really brings the joy of the “rally cap” and a good old-fashioned “rally” at the bat to a fervor is that it allows for everybody to get to be a part of it. Any baseball fan with a baseball cap can pitch in during a rally with a cap askew. Rallies can end on a single pitch; their ephemeral nature makes them a particularly vital part of the baseball experience for players and fans. You never know when a rally will come, but as momentum starts trickling your way, who knows? It could be your rally cap that really kicks things into gear.
It shouldn’t be any wonder baseball rallies are such cause for cheer, because the root word “rally” has several colorful definitions and meanings, including:
- to muster for a common purpose
- to arouse for action
- to rouse from depression or weakness
- to come together again to renew an effort
- to join in a common cause
- a summoning up of strength or courage after weakness or dejection
- a mass meeting intended to arouse group enthusiasm
In Other Words
We all rally in some context or another in pivotal moments in our lives.
We rally and we find a way forward.
We rally to be our best when we need to be. Because that’s what we do. That’s who we are. No matter your walk of life, this past year has brought challenging day after challenging day. Every good day is a gift, every healthy day, every happy day, they are gifts and they are opportunities to start a rally. String those good days together and you get a rally going and you stay hot. Human beings are wired to find a way to persevere under extraordinary circumstances. No matter the nature of our struggles, we find ways forward.
Every time a batter comes to bat, they are trying to start rallies or keep them going every time they come to bat. Most at-bats, they fail: they make an out. Every rally ends, every game ends. Win or lose, you try again the next time.
That’s how you succeed: by getting back up and taking another hack at it. That’s what we do in our lives. We get up each day and try to start a rally. We find the strength within us to give our best efforts at being our best each day.
Some days bring grief and sadness that can feel exhausting at times. These feelings aren’t stronger than we are. There’s always strength to be drawn from life’s most challenging moments; we’re always capable of tapping into it.
What inspired me most this weekend was the strength that I saw and felt from my fiancée as she helped put together a beautiful memorial over Zoom for her late friend Erica, with ~60 friends and family members in attendance.
It was hard. It was emotional. My fiancée did a lot of heavy lifting to help co-organize the event and make it special, and I think everyone in attendance agreed that it was a cathartic, lovely tribute. There was not a dry eye in sight.
When I first heard that my fiancée and two others close to Erica wanted to organize a memorial set for three weeks after her passing, I must admit, I was a little unsure of how good an idea it was. Now I am grateful that it happened.
I was unsure about it because I knew that the grief for those of us who knew Erica was still pretty raw when discussions on how to memorialize her best were being hashed out. My fiancée has been so strong through heavy grief and adding more hefty responsibility onto her shoulders in the form of co-organizing a classy memorial was a lot of pressure that I didn’t want for her.
Ultimately, the efforts of everyone who contributed to making the memorial special would’ve brought a smile to Erica’s face. It felt like a warm group hug.
I was hesitant about all that extra pressure and stress on my fiancée because I don’t want her to buckle under all that. We can’t all be so strong all the time. But watching her rally this weekend? Summoning the strength she needed to be strong for Erica and her parents, to be the glue that held the whole rally together with a touching tribute video and a heartfelt speech? It took my breath away. She turned her grief into love in a remarkably powerful way.
Her strength, her resolve, her ability to start a rally and keep it going strong for a friend who was like a sister to her; that was the best rally I’ve ever seen.
My fiancée explored and reflected upon the many ways she’s been processing the recent loss of her beloved friend in an emotional new piece on her Medium page:
An Ode to a Friend Gone Too Soon
She wanted me to share her words. She trusted me to tell her story.
I’ve been writing The Good Press for 49 straight weeks now, and from very early on in the proceedings, I’ve remarked about the life lessons I’ve learned through the prism of baseball. Maybe that’s why a baseball rally came to mind as I watched my fiancée spread love, peace, and comfort to so many people who have been hurting over losing someone, even as she grieves, too.
That’s a superpower, to me. To be able to take grief and sadness, especially when you feel it, too, and turn it into a collective cathartic celebration of love.
Pandemic-related travel restrictions be damned, Erica was sent off properly, with dozens of people hearing and swapping stories of how much better their lives are for having known Erica, and how much they’ll carry her with them.
That’s what life is all about, isn’t it? Being able to live and love and make people smile when they think about you after you’re gone? In 32 years, Erica strung together a lot of good rallies when many others would’ve given up. It may be why they were so close. Erica and my fiancée are kindred spirits who have a lot of love to spread to as many people as possible, every single day.
Sometimes it hurts to get up out of bed, dust ourselves off, and find strength within us to overcome powerful bouts of grief and sadness that wish to slow us down and count us out. But when we need to be our best, when we need a good rally the most, we are all always capable of getting a good time started.
Spread love and kindness when you can, my friends. Make it so contagious that it starts a rally that refuses to be denied, and keep the rally going as long as you can. And when it ends? Well, that’s a good time to start another one.
Maybe it’s not wearing caps funny that primarily fuels a rally. Hard work, determination, care, and effort do, mostly (and good fortune never hurts, too). Whatever fuels you, don’t take it for granted just because rallies inevitably end. Make the most of it each moment and keep it going as long as you can.
Till next time,
Previously in The Good Press
The Good Press — Issue #48: Spring Forward
As we spring forward each day ever closer to a “post-pandemic” America, sports leagues once again will attempt to show us a way forward
March 17, 2021
The Good Press — Issue #47: Plans
You know what they say about the best-laid plans… Reflecting on our one-year “panniversary,” and what it will be like to live in a post-pandemic world
March 10, 2021
The Good Press — Issue #46: Life
A glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel gives us time to reflect on the fragility of life, what we’ve endured, and those we’ve lost along the way
March 3, 2021