Wasn’t it swell of the Winter Olympics to close up shop just in time to allow baseball to take its proper place at the forefront of our minds, of our emotions, of our hearts, and- perhaps most importantly- our threads?
And even as I chiseled the last remnants of ice from my windshield this morning, isn’t today just a little warmer? Wasn’t your commute to work a walk in the park? Doesn’t the boss appear nicer, and maybe even smarter?
Baseball, dear friends, does more than "repair our losses". It enhances what we already love and hold dear to us. Who among you won’t get goose bumps upon hearing Ken Korach’s voice this afternoon?
Before the Athletics’ first game in Oakland in 1968, area writers waxed poetic, though perhaps not as eloquently as our own baseballgirl:
"Baseball is child’s play but it becomes man’s work for the skillful. It happens every time a kid throws a ball against the side of the building and catches it. It doesn’t need fields or grass. The game can be played on asphalt, up alleys and in places where garbage is dumped. It is our part of our heritage." – Ed Levitt, Oakland Tribune
Yes, baseball is grown men playing a kid’s game, but maybe that’s naiveté on my part, as I am someone who refuses to grow
up old. More from the Tribune, this time Bill Fiset:
"All of a sudden you’re a baseball nut because Oakland has a big-league team all its own, a bunch of guys whose names will become household words in a matter of weeks despite the garish uniforms and the strange drama that unfolds on a baseball field. By strange drama I mean all that stuff where the pitcher tugs at his cap, the catcher scratches himself in the most unlikely places, the third base coach takes two steps backward and it all means something."
I think that is one of my favorite things about baseball, those subtle phrases that "mean something", like "two-seamer" or "even with the bag" or "GYMNASTICS!" (Ok, not so subtle, that one).
I have often penned that baseball was passed down to me, and as is the case, I too have passed it down to others. As much as I love playing hooky on a Wednesday afternoon with my father and older brothers to watch the team I literally grew up with, I take equal enjoyment in hanging out with these guys at the ballpark. Who cares if I emptied my wallet on cotton candy and Dibs, and spent the middle innings in the Stomper Zone? (It’s not what you think it is, Bloom.) When the good guys jump out to a 6-0 lead after two turns at the plate you can afford a little extracurricular activity and still make it back- with time to spare- for the final out.
The experts might say that the 43rd edition of the Oakland A’s will be no better than the three previous ones, at least where the American League West race is concerned, but I am genuinely excited about the team’s chances this season. Perhaps an invite to the Big Crapshoot is a little too ambitious, but I believe the consolation prize of Playing Meaningful Games in September is not so much a pipedream.
Thing is, you never know with baseball. It doesn’t change, and yet it’s always new.
So let the real games begin. They may not count in the standings, but don't tell anyone around here that they don't matter, right PT?
And finally, a happy 40th birthday to the incomparable Leopold Bloom. We will be serving cake and ice cream in the AN cafeteria, and later today, a…game thread!