For a true baseball fan, there are no sweeter words than “pitchers and catchers report to spring training”.
There’s nothing like a fresh slate of 162 games. It’s like the small of a woman’s back, or a hanging curveball. It’s better than Christmas, my birthday, and the last day of school all rolled up together.
Baseball has shaped my whole life. It has taught me the meaning of so many experiences – what it’s like to win and lose, to succeed and fail, what it means to be part of something bigger than yourself.. it’s seen me at my best and worst. It’s brutally honest and unequivocally forgiving.
You grow, you fight, you are confronted with obstacles. You fail, you learn, you adapt, you fail again. You get back up the next day and try again. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.. and sometimes, it rains. They say art imitates life – well, life imitates baseball.
It’s a more beautiful dance than ballet – the rhythm, the sounds of the game, it’s the fireworks on the 4th of July from the outfield in the Oakland Coliseum, a perfectly executed sac bunt, a brushback, a hot dog. It’s Lima Time and the Rally Monkey and Disco Demolition Night and Bill Veeck and Bill James and the D-Train and Charlie Hustle.
It’s impossible to encompass the game of baseball, beacuse it means different things to different people. To me, baseball is talking Giants with my dad, taking groundballs for hours in the sun with Gilly or Galv, and story time with Jon Miller. It’s a beautiful game. Welcome back, baseball!
I’m a regular reader of Grantland.com, and recently Jonah Keri posted an article about Cuban baseball player Jose Abreu. It’s a fascinating read, but in the article is a link to this 2008 story by Michael Lewis which peels back the curtain on baseball and politics in Communist Cuba. It is a must read.
Baseball is the kind of game that can tie together a history teacher from Vancouver, a journalist from New Orleans, and a Cuban baseball legend. There are many, many stories like this one interwoven into the tapestry of the game, and that’s because the game they play with sticks and rocks and bare feet down in Cuba, an economically depressed and politically anomalous country, is the same game as they play in suburban San Diego on well-tailored and chalked fields, which is the same game they play in Japan, Australia, Europe and nearly every corner of the globe.
It’s not the game itself that makes it so great – it’s the characters who have given it life and personality and history. Enjoy the read, and root, root root for the home team! I’m going to the store to get some Cracker Jacks, I’ll see you at the yard, meat!