Last weekend, I picked up a book called The Tao of Baseball at, ironically enough, a church rummage sale. I had read the Tao of Pooh many years ago, and that was the extent of my exposure to Taoist thought. But I’m always up for learning something about baseball, so I gave this one a read.
Taoism is probably best identified by the white and black symbol shown in the image above. The idea is that the white is Yang, or the things that might be considered as desirable. The black is Yin, or the things that you don’t want to have. Candy on Halloween is Yang, while a bloated feeling from eating too much of it is Yin.
Yin and Yang combine to form the Tao, which can be translated as the Way of all things. A glass of water can be hot (let’s call that Yang) or cold (that will be Yin), or else it’s going to be somewhere in between, with the two forces balancing themselves out to some degree.
So let’s apply this understanding to baseball for a moment. Winning a ballgame is Yang, while losing a ballgame is Yin. A game can’t end in a tie, and so this must always be the result of every single game. Winning enough games to earn a division title or a wild card berth to the playoffs is Yang, while missing the playoffs altogether is Yin.
Winning the World Series is the highest level of Yang available, and Theo Epstein achieved this not once, but twice, thus overcoming the historic Yin of the Boston Red Sox. And that’s what the Cubs are expecting him to achieve by bringing him to Chicago.
Speaking as a Cubs fan–who has drank from the cup of Yin far more often than he has sampled any Yang–I can say that the Cubs’ Yang needs to be made as great as it possibly can be in the years ahead. I wish Theo Epstein the best in taking us to that place we all want to be someday.