Monday, April 3, 2017

Play Ball

Baseball started yesterday for about 4 teams, none of them Met's.  So the season really begins today.  

"The Green Fields of the Mind "

"It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops. Today, October 2, a Sunday of rain and broken branches and leaf-clogged drains and slick streets, it stopped, and summer was gone.

Somehow, the summer seemed to slip by faster this time. Maybe it wasn't this summer, but all the summers that, in this my fortieth summer, slipped by so fast. There comes a time when every summer will have something of autumn about it. Whatever the reason, it seemed to me that I was investing more and more in baseball, making the game do more of the work that keeps time fat and slow and lazy. I was counting on the game's deep patterns, three strikes, three outs, three times three innings, and its deepest impulse, to go out and back, to leave and to return home, to set the order of the day and to organize the daylight. I wrote a few things this last summer, this summer that did not last, nothing grand but some things, and yet that work was just camouflage. The real activity was done with the radio--not the all-seeing, all-falsifying television--and was the playing of the game in the only place it will last, the enclosed green field of the mind. There, in that warm, bright place, what the old poet called Mutability does not so quickly come.

That is why it breaks my heart, that game -- there is a rough justice, and a reminder..of how slight and fragile are the circumstances that exalt one group of human beings over another. It breaks my heart because it was meant to, because it was meant to foster in me again the illusion that there was something abiding, some pattern and some impulse that could come together to make a reality that would resist the corrosion; and because, after it had fostered again that most hungered-for illusion, the game was meant to stop, and betray precisely what it promised.

Of course, there are those who learn after the first few times. They grow out of sports. And there are others who were born with the wisdom to know that nothing lasts. These are the truly tough among us, the ones who can live without illusion, or without even the hope of illusion. I am not that grown-up or up-to-date. I am a simpler creature, tied to more primitive patterns and cycles. I need to think something lasts forever, and it might as well be that state of being that is a game; it might as well be that, in a green field, in the sun."

Bart Giammati (1998)

"Baseball, it is said, is only a game.  True.  And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona.  Not all holes, or games, are created equal."

George Will (1999)

"Baseball's a dull game, really.  That's the reason it is so good.  We do not love the game so much as we love the sprawl and drowse and shirt-sleeved apathy of it."  

Thomas Wolfe (1940) 

I was a baseball fan ever since I can remember.  It was part of the three channels we got in Seaton.  Back when TV was free.  WGN televised the Cubs with Jack Brickhouse.  We watched them on Sundays.  We watched Curt Gowdy on Saturday broadcast the national games.   We listened to Vince Lloyd and Lou Boudreau on the radio.   I became a Met's fan when I was 12.  Best decision I ever made.  Seven years later we won the World Series.  

When I got married I planned the honeymoon.  I made sure my new bride had a chance to see the Met's play the Cubs in Chicago.    We went to 2 games and we lost both of them, 6-1 and 2-1.  My buddy Mike called WGN and Harry Carey announced we were there and then lamented on-air why young newlyweds would go to a ballgame on their honeymoon.  That's easy enough, Harry, to see Tom Seaver.  Both teams battled to stay out of last place that year, and the Met's lost.  

Baseball was a big deal, I guess, for us.  We listened to it, watched it, and played it.   The Wombie was even sacrificed at the altar:  he was the the recipient of a stray practice throw at the Seaton ball diamond when very young that required extensive dental work.  You could watch a couple innings on TV, hop in the car and go to Emerald City, grab a burger and malt at the Tastee Freez, cruise around some, get home and the game would only be in the 5th inning.  

Nowadays the big corporations have taken away our free TV and given you the option of watching the local teams, national games,  baseball season packages, a major league channel and that doesn't include ESPN.  Hell, we even have fantasy baseball to fill our times in between games (I'm in 4 leagues this year).  

Everything is good when baseball starts.  And baseball starts today, for me, at 1:10 this afternoon.        

1 comment:

  1. Baseball is worried about speeding the game up. They are simply wrong. It is a great way to spend a lazy afternoon or evening. Relax, enjoy the game, have a cold beverage and a hot dog. Forget about life and your troubles. Yell at an umpire. You can see that wasn't a strike from 300' away. Why can't he? Enjoy your Mets today. My Cards beat the Cubs last night. 161 games to go.