The calendar tells me it’s April; but you wouldn’t know it from the fresh six inches of snow on my front lawn. Nevertheless, it’s springtime; and in the spring, a young man’s heart turns to thoughts of – you guessed it – baseball. (I think I mixed about three or four metaphors there, but I think Shakespeare will forgive me. After all, didn’t he say “to err is human; to forgive, it takes four umpires to check the instant replay?”
In a roundabout way, that brings me to the point of today’s blog entry: why I love spring.
I wasn’t lying about the snow: we have been hit with a regression to February weather here in the Northeast. But what does that matter when it’s Opening Day? Unless you are a player and have to wear those dorky hoods that make you look like an Olympic bobsledder, or a beer-drinking fan, frozen to your frosty 36-degree Opening Day seats, it matters not. I have The MLB Network on my cable TV and I can blast the heat in my house up to 72. I am all set.
If you follow my blog, or read my books, you know that baseball is a love of mine. The sport that mirrors the seasons has a special place in my heart. The baseball season is born in the late winter, when its players run to Florida and Arizona to work on their timing and autograph signing. By the time spring rolls around and the players head north to icy stadiums, the promise of spring equals the promise of the sport. What player (and fan) doesn’t believe that his or her team will win the World Series?
Forget Sabermetrics. Forget the laws of probability. Anything can happen in baseball, and sometimes it does (the ’69 Mets, for example). Even last year, the Mets, a team that was ready to pack it in about half-way through the season, came close to winning it all.
Yes, springtime means Opening Day, and Opening Day means that you never give up. But more important to me, Opening Day reminds me of my family and all the days we spent together at the ballpark as a group, crying for our team when they lost and cheering for them when they won.
Baseball reminds me of my father and my uncles, who taught me the sport, and my brother, sisters and cousins who played it with me. It reminds me of my mother, a rabid fan, who for some reason always got the players’ names wrong, and my aunt and uncle, who, at their 50th Wedding Anniversary had the whole family assemble in the middle of the dance floor to hold hands and sing our family song “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”
Baseball has kept my family close and loving throughout the years. We mourn for the players who have passed on, just as we mourn for our loved ones who have left us. Baseball is a family game, passed from generation to generation. It is timeless. It is interwoven with the stories of our lives. And just as I can still recall the mighty swing of Mickey Mantle as he launches one into the seats in right-center field, baseball shall always live as vividly in our hearts.
See you at the ball park, guys. Play ball!