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Hello, Old Friend: Baseball Takes its Proper Place

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There are three things in my life which I really love:  God, my family, and baseball.  The only problem - once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit.  ~Al Gallagher, 1971

It happens to me every April when I walk into that stadium for the first time.  There's anticipation, kind of like that first-date nervousness, and then as I make my way past the turnstile, the emotions overwhelm me.  I close my eyes for a moment to take in the aroma of steaming hot dogs, and the echoes of excited fans, and damn, if it doesn't just smell and sound like baseball.

Saturday was no different.  I plopped down in a seat directly behind home plate to have a look around the place.  The house is not the same as I remember it as a kid, but I am surely home.  You can rearrange the furniture all you want, but the memories are imbedded inside those hallowed walls.  Focusing my attention to the playing field- and yes LibrariAN, the grass really is "stunningly green"- those memories come flooding back.  Take a glance towards right field, and there's Reggie jogging out to his spot.  Sneak a peek at the pitcher's mound, and you see Eck pumping his fist after another win.  Steal a look at third base, and there's Rickey, well, stealing third base.

***

Baseball does not discriminate; it welcomes all walks of life, and all types of fans.  There is something so positively poetic about this great game of ours; its timelessness, its tradition, and its ability to transcend.  Baseball unites us; it allows us to forget our troubles for awhile.

Many are the things that attract us to this game, and to this team.  For some it's about the numbers, for others it's about the moments, and still there are others who just want to swoon over Sweeney.  Some have been here since Day 1; others just latched on last year.  But one thing is certain: we are infinitely connected by our passion for the Oakland A's.

Oakland.  The city with "no there, there". And quite soon enough, with no baseball team there, either.  Almost from their arrival, the A's have been a franchise in limbo.  They have been targeted for faraway lands such as Denver and New Orleans, and more recently- yet not so distant- Fremont and San Jose. But this will mark the forty-second season at 7000 Coliseum Way for this colorful, intriguing, and remarkably successful club; a club having to make do in a football town, even when the football team wasn't here.

Yes, for all the talk of relocation, when the calendar turns to April, the A's are right here where they belong.  I have known nothing else.  My first year on this planet- if you are to believe I am from this planet- coincided with the A's last season in Kansas City.  Every year since, we've hung out together for some six months at a time.  If saying goodbye every October didn't hurt so much, saying hello again in April wouldn't feel so wonderful.  You take the good with the bad.  Sort of like life. 

So yeah, you can say that the A's and I have grown up together, but we have yet to grow old.  May we never.

***

Cliché's run rampant this time of year. Everyone's tied for first, and hope springs eternal.  Hard to tell what's really going to happen with our boys this year, but even that is what makes baseball so appealing: on any given day you have a chance to witness something you've never seen before.  And sometimes those days turn into full seasons.  Just ask the Tampa Bay Rays.

Hey, when Red Sox fans have your team winning it all, well, actually, I'm not sure how to feel about that yet.  Ask me in October.  Thing about the A's is that they are forever the underdog, even when they've been really good, and that's kind of how we like them.  They remind us of...us.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. I don't care too much for the spring season (gasp!).  Oh I get why people do, but it's just difficult for me to dive into something that has no there, there.  But starting today, at about 6:15 or so, I'm all in.

Welcome back, baseball.  You've been missed.  As for our A's, here's to new memories.