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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

EDITOR'S NOTE: If you want to be part of the Saturday, April 4th Community Service event (volunteering in the morning, watching the A's-Giants game in the afternoon), please make sure to comment in this thread!  -Nico
"God, I love baseball".  - Robert Redford, to Glenn Close in The Natural

The month of February has never been short on holidays and silly customs, and while my calendar says spring is still over a month away, I am grateful for the one ritual that lives by its own schedule.

As a good portion of the male population scurries across the land this Saturday in honor of that other timeless tradition (namely paying for sex, for which the distributors of chocolate, and long-stemmed roses are ever so grateful), I'll be home, all gussied up for baseball's return, and the end of a long and lonely (very lonely...sigh) winter.  Give Cupid the "Will you be mine?" refrain; the sentimentalist in me says no four-word combination shouts "romance" quite like this: 

Pitchers and catchers report. 

{fans self}

Um. Can we hurry the eff up with baseball already?  - Leopold Bloom, in DLD for 2/11/09 Hoax and wtf edition

Yes, baseball is open for business Saturday, a little tattered and torn perhaps, but that's part of its appeal.  And though our Oakland A's are a year away from being "special"- by some accounts anyway- there is still plenty to get hot and bothered over in 2009.

I mean why celebrate a superficial holiday, when you can have a Holliday?  (Well, at least until he's traded at the deadline).  Now I can't promise you a Hot Pants Day revival (sorry, LB) but how about a rebirth of a different sort?  Yes, Jason Giambi has shown- like so many former MVP's before him- that you can go home again, and his choice of derriere-wear will get you in just the right mood.  What that mood entails, well, that's up to you and the company you keep.  And for our really nostalgic types (you know who you are), a weekend getaway with Rickey!  Cooperstown not in the budget?  No problem!  We'll bring Rickey to you.  You're gushing with excitement, I can tell.

(And they wonder why I never made it in marketing.)

"I see great things in baseball. It's our game, the American game. It will repair our losses and be a blessing to us."  - Susan Sarandon, quoting Walt Whitman, in Bull Durham

I may not envision "great things" for the A's this year, but one thing's for certain: the Angels aren't cakewalking their way to the title in 2009, with or without Abreu.  And it could be that I've been hitting the seasonal drink called "Sweet Mid-February Optimism" a little too much this morning, but count me among the few who expects the Eric Chavez of old (not quite vintage) to reemerge.  (On the other hand; I'd be really interested to know what Gaijin_Suketto was sipping on when he penned this fairy tale.  All in fun, Gaijin).  However the lineup shapes up, the A's will surely produce more runs than the 646 they scored last year; the team's worst total in nearly thirty seasons.

As for what goes on sixty feet and six inches from home plate, success is dependent on some rather young arms (well, they're young to me, damn it).  And while a recent AN poll pined for William Lamar to add another starter (or two), it appears the A's are going with what they have, knowing Anderson, Cahill, and Mazzaro are waiting in the wings to "repair our losses and be a blessing to us."

What draws my admiration?  What is that which gives me joy?  Baseball!  - Robert DeNiro in The Untouchables

I hope norcalfan doesn't mind me typing from the heart here.  We all have our reasons for following the National Pastime; I'd imagine most of us have more than one.  If you've been paying even a little attention (or maybe you've made a really cool collage of all my posts, and they're displayed on the walls of a dark, dank room that only you know about...well one could hope), you would know that the grand old game was passed on to me by grander, older people.

Dad & Rudi

Dad at the Hall in '89.  He's one of the reasons I love baseball. 

I no longer ride around on my bike with Mitchell Page's rookie card in the spokes (well, once in a while), but there is something about baseball that brings out the little boy in me.  The players are no longer larger than life (that's what happens when you find you are older than every guy on the roster), they are no longer heroes, there is no Reggie Jackson to leave me "helpless and in awe", but the sights and the sounds and the smells still manage to take me back.   

As I get older, I just want to win.  Been too long.  I don't get as attached to the players as I did before (though the longer you play here, the harder it is for me to let go...yeah, even you Crosby), but I always get attached to the moments.  I can't explain it, but I love when pitchers are removed after a great outing, and the fans stand to applaud the effort.  Gets me every time.  I remember the time when Zito came out of a game in '06 before the deadline when we thought he might be traded...the ovation lasted a little longer, it was more meaningful; it was like...thanks, dude.  Still, there's nothing like a walk-off win to send the fans home on a high.

Marlins Athletics Baseball

Just another reason why baseball tugs at the old heartstrings like no other sport. 

And so as we close with a slightly altered quote from a certain AN'er, feel free to write your own stories on when baseball became "it" for you, and what keeps you coming back.  Movie quotes always welcome.  Take us home, 74mk:

I look outside my window this morning, and I see flowers blooming, birds gliding above rooftops, commuters whistling cheery tunes.  The aroma of coffee curls through the cubicle corridors, which somehow feel warmer and more welcoming today.   I open an email entitled "Vertical strat flow mtg", and rather than racing to the bathroom to throw up and question my life path, I smile and type out a pleasant, jargon-peppered response.

The whole world is born anew. Thanks, baseball.