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“I believe in the church of baseball.” Annie Savoy in “Bull Durham”
It doesn’t get any better than opening day. It’s spring. The grass is green, and nowhere greener than on the infield. Can anyone be truly pessimistic about their team, the team they’ve loved since, well, since they knew what baseball is, and was and we hope will always be, on opening day?
Take me, for instance. I’ve been a Braves fan since 1958. I was 10 years old and the Braves were in the World Series. I hardly knew what the World Series was, but the Braves were there, the Braves of Henry Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Warren Spann, and Lew Burdette. And Del Crandall. And Johnny Logan. They were the heroes when I was 10. Not Willie Mays. Not Duke Snider. Not even Mickey Mantle. Why? Who knows? Logic has very little to do with being a fan when you’re 10. But now I’m 68 and it’s Opening Day and the Braves look to be terrible. Yet I’ll be watching this summer. It’s what I do.
There is nothing in sports better than being in a pennant race. The Braves won’t be in the pennant race. But Kansas City will be, or should be. I’ll be rooting for the Royals, even if they do play that inferior type of ball—the American League with it’s disgusting designated hitter. As Crash Davis says, “I believe there should be a constitutional amendment banning Astroturf and the designated hitter.” I love the style of ball the Royals play. There is a joy, an enthusiasm in their play. It doesn’t hurt that Alex Gordon is in Kansas City (where he should be.)
Opening Day. The grass. Walking into the ballpark and seeing the grass and the dirt and hearing the crack of bat on ball. The dance of taking infield. It’s an art form. The beauty of baseball is that it’s slow. There’s plenty of time to savor the sights and sounds and smells. Baseball, more than any sport I know, is a sensual experience.
Baseball is our game, the American game. Walt Whitman (By now you must recognize that I love “Bull Durham.” ) misquoted, but the sentiment is there.
I love baseball, whether it’s the major leagues or watching kids play. When I was working on my Masters, I often went to the park to watch kids play ball in the summer. It’s the same game. College baseball is fun too. So is minor league ball.
There will always be baseball.
Hope springs eternal, even for this Braves fan. Wait ’til next year.
You can look it up.