Søren #Kierkegaard, #Baseball, and My New #RallyBird Rules (PDF)


If I may translate the philosopher’s concepts in my own way, then baseball’s four bases represent Søren Kierkegaard’s scoring strategy. They exemplify his coaching observation of the first aesthetic, then ethical, and finally religious modes of base running, with a difficult slide (or leap) of faith to reach Home plate. Kierkegaard argues that one can have faith that the cloud of dust transforms into a Run on the colossal electric scoreboard, but one can never believe it, because the bright click of that scoreboard is beyond muscle achievement and beyond reason. The cerulean Run is something else. This unrelentingly requirement of test on individual strength and resolve relates to the compelling existentialism of baseball.

1st base is an achievement of individual aesthetics, the batter’s skillful use of the passions to swing the bat just right. This does not mean an abuse of passions, but the motivation is pleasure. Who among you has not exalted, as I still do, at the musical sound of the bat hitting the ball in its sweet, sweet spot? O sensual raptures! Mind you, to maximize pleasure thoughtfully, an Epicurean life is smarter, measured, more calculated than a hedonistic life. A runner can take an 11-foot lead from first base, sometimes a 12- or even 13-foot lead, but a hedonistic 14-foot lead? That cannot last. It won’t last. It doesn’t last.

A moment comes when the baserunner found a way to move beyond the limitations of the aesthetic approach and achieved second base. It’s a new way. Wary of mere pleasure-seeking, from oneself the player naturally thinks of the team, of the friendly dugout clearly in view, of what 2nd base represents as the border of a Runner In Scoring Position. From second base the player can easily see the comrade at bat. Trading glances, the second base runner can spy the pitcher’s grip on the laces of the ball and signal, with hand on chin, then hand on knee, that he’s loaded a fastball. (RallyBird’s Take the Pitch card reflects this specific possibility.) This is legal, but baseball’s unofficial regulations frown on it; at least, Defense may respond by beaning the player next time at bat. Ethics brings responsibility. Ethical responsibility means the player has moved from thinking about the self to others, but the self remains.

As baseball commentator Kierkegaard says, no player on second base has ever reached Home plate by running in a straight line toward it. The absurd fact is, that the player seeking Home must run obliquely (beyond logic, proof and reason) from the ethical second base toward the Third Base of religious feeling. The greater the uncertainty, the more likely that this will be a great sports moment, we in the crowd lean forward and making sounds beyond language. The baserunner blurs between third base and home. The ball returns like a cannon shot from the center fielder. The catcher reaches his glove. Unable to see the ball or Home, the Knight of Faith dives into the obscurity, with trust that Home plate will reach back to tag the player’s outstretched hand.

This RallyBird rule pdf (link below) is in progress, but I offer to share it with you. It looks different, but it is the same 1-hour baseball board game with quick decisions for offense and defense each at bat. I’ve added a couple of new variants including Series rules. Also I learned I could add an additional card to the game at no cost to you, so I added a trophy card. The rules include a picture of it. When I proof these rules, mull and ruminate a few more hundred times, I’ll replace the current ones that come with the game with this set.

RallyBird Board Game Rules version May11, 2019

Here is a concise and sensible summary of Kierkegaard’s stages.

You can buy the RallyBird Baseball Board Game here.