Sunday, April 10, 2011

Baseball is a glorious rite of spring

Some people like the winter, but do not count me among that group. I used to like the winter a lot when I was a boy, but as time passed, I grew to resent it more and more.

The recent winter was like putting a cherry on top of a very bad hot fudge sundae. Normal winters are bad enough, but the cold and snow we experienced until mid-February made me anticipate spring like a prisoner yearns for freedom.

The bottom line is that is gone, and that is fine with me.

Springtime brings many joys with it. The most obvious one is the rebirth of nature as life replaces death. However, this is not the focus of this column.

I want to talk about Major League Baseball. Roll your eyes if you must, but spring does not start for me until the first pitch is thrown on opening day as it was on March 31.

Many people do not like baseball. They say the games are too long and meander at a pace guaranteed to cure insomnia. Living in the instant gratification society that we do, I can understand why many feel that way.

After all, if our dinners are not microwaved to a sizzle in five minutes or the problems of the day are not solved in a tidy 30-minute television program, we think something is terribly wrong.

If that is truly the mindset of the day, then three-hour baseball games must seem like trying to read War and Peace to some people.

Additionally, the Major League Baseball season covers 162 games and that is way too long for many. For many sports fans, they would prefer to have 162 pro football games and only 16 baseball games. Of course, this is impossible because there would be dead football players from Miami to Seattle if that season was significantly lengthened.

Sometimes baseball players do not do themselves any favors when it comes to how people perceive their sport. We still live in the shadows of the steroids' era, and we are currently dealing with court cases involving two of baseball's greatest players.

Slugger Barry Bonds has been in court recently because of alleged perjury the federal government says he committed when testifying before a grand jury. Pitching great Roger Clemens faces a similar trial later this summer.

It will be a major stain on the game if one or both of these men go to prison.

However, there is a lot to love about the game. My favorite part is the day-to-day nature of it. From now until October, there will be games almost every day. If it is possible to build a relationship with a sport, then baseball is the one.

It is impossible to do this with football. Football happens once a week for three hours then it is gone. Unless somebody counts the endless hot air spoken on networks like ESPN, football comes and goes like a movie.

Baseball is not that way. It gently unfolds before us and continues through the summer until it reaches its completion in early autumn. Some writers have compared the baseball season to the unfolding of a summer romance. I like that analogy because like romance the baseball season has many unexpected thrills and detours that are surprising.

I also reject the idea that the sport is boring. The most accurate adjective to describe it is 'deliberate.' Great care is undertaken when approaching the strategy of the game, and if it has the audacity to require us to be patient sometimes, then so be it.

Not everything was meant to be decided within a few minutes. This goes for sports and life.


The Benefactor said...

Love that photo of Hank Aaron. Eyes are looking up like he is watching another ball fly out of the park. He's still the home run king to me.

Chris said...

I picked the photo because of the vintage uniform he is wearing. It is probably from 1973 or '74. I miss those uniforms.