Life is a Game
Description of motion: Arm winds back. Whole body goes into motion as if about to throw a baseball.
Observed: 1-28-15. HJE. Standing at counter.
Example: "I asked the contractor to come over and bid a job, and you know what, they try to hit a home run every time. They don't want those singles or doubles."
Links to use: Baseball Movies That Hit a Home Run
Use: The home run metaphor is used to illustrate success. The Life is a Game metaphor implies there is a underlying coherent structure to life, just as there is to baseball.
Metaphor: Life is a Game
Explanation: Games have specific characteristics such as clearly defined boundaries, rules, scoring, winners/losers, and a set amount of time/innings. Baseball, as a sport, has its own internal logic, which in this instance, is copied to the relationship between a contractor and a customer, a part of life we call "business".
The customer was irritated at a contractor because they didn't want to take on a small job, which was referred to as "a single or double". They thought the contractor was only interested in "hitting a home run" which was later explained as "getting a big job that would make lots of money". The term "hit a home run" or "hitting it out of the park" is typically in reference to the idea of being successful, as it is used in the example link given above.
Gesturally, the man acted as a pitcher throwing a baseball. The contractor was the batter. The baseball was the invitation to win (hit) the contract being offered. In this baseball metaphor we offer the chance to win contracts like a pitcher offers a ball to a batter. There is a similar cooperative/competitive relationship in both instances. In baseball all the players must cooperate and play by the rules of the game, but within the game they compete against each other to win. In meeting with a contractor, we are also cooperating with them, in that we might eventually work with them, but are simultaneously trying to get the best deal, and possibly throw them into competition with each other. Winning, from the contractor's perspective is getting a hit, (achieving a favorable outcome) whereas winning in the customer's point of view is seen as getting the cheapest price.
In this metaphor, there are all sorts of reasons why the contractor would not hit the ball. Getting a hit takes some skill. The contractor could swing late. He could take his eye off the ball and miss. The ball could be thrown poorly. Or he could simply not swing. There are a host of variables on either side of the relationship that could alter the outcome of what happens between them. The customer here was upset that the man did not even try to hit it, since it was such a small job, thus he didn't even bother swinging. The customer was exasperated, as not swinging at pitches, which he interpreted as "not trying", while not a violation of the rules, is a violation of the basic purpose of the game itself, to win. This violation caused him to become quite upset, as it calls into question the existential nature of the game. (Of course there are reasonable and strategic explanations for not swinging at a pitch (in baseball and in buisness) but that did not seem to occur to the customer.)
What this metaphor points to is that there are fundamental laws that govern baseball, just as there are fundamental laws that govern life. Whether they are physical laws (the law of gravity) or baseball laws (the law against running the bases in the wrong direction) they are both seemingly invisible and irrefutable in their existence. When we get into business we get into all sorts of ambiguous territory, where the laws are sometimes hard to discern. We use baseball metaphors because baseball is a physical games that is governed by easy to understand irrefutable rules. There is a much more concrete cohesive rulebook for baseball than there is for business. Metaphors usually seek to make the ambiguous more concrete, and in this case, we are comparing two rulebooks, one more ambiguous (the rulebook of business) to one more concrete (the rule book of baseball). This metaphor is categorized under Laws, precisely because of this point.
There is no one physical property that is being referred to, or that is more important than the others. What this is ultimately about is the invisible architecture of laws that governs the physical forces within a given system (baseball, business, life). In the diagram above, the laws are an oval that seeks to encompass both players. While of course not to scale to an actual baseball diamond, they dotted line abstractly represents the idea that certain systems of laws have insides and outsides. The rules of baseball do not apply outside of baseball. There is an inside and an outside to them. You can step into the rules and you can step out of them. Similarly, we think of business the same way. We say things like, "It's business. It's not personal," signifying that "in business" we have stepped into a different architecture of laws.
There are other interesting coherent metaphors that are nested within the baseball metaphor and I will just briefly mention some of them. Because there is a specified number of innings in baseball, Distance is Progress. In order to win you are encouraged to "go the distance". Force is Determination, because it takes a certain amount of force to swing the bat to hit a home run. Seeing is Understanding, is encapsulated in the phrase "don't take you eye off the ball". You can swing with lots of force, but if you don't know where the ball is, it won't matter. Similarly, in business relationships, you can make a concerted effort. You can "push really hard" to make something happen, but if you don't understand a particular element of "the game", all of that effort is for nothing, as you have "taken your eye off the ball" and have let a crucial detail escape your understanding, that will make you fail at your task, to get the deal (to hit the ball).