Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Baseball's back. All's right with the world.

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

There is very little space in this world where I could find common ground with George Will, but I have to admit, the man does have a feel for the game of baseball. He's absolutely right. Not all games are created equal, and baseball just happens to be the best game ever invented by a human.

People who think of baseball as dull are simply dull people. There is so much going on in a game at any one time that there is just no way to follow it all. There's the way the outfielders are positioned, the way the infielders get set for each pitch, the way the pitcher "plays" the umpire, trying to get him to call the strikes the pitcher wants. There's the way baserunners try to fool fielders and the way fielders attempt to "deke" baserunners. And strategy always depends on who's up to bat next and next after that. There's is always something to think about. And that's just if you are watching the game on television.

If you are lucky enough to actually be in attendance at a game, the sensory overload is overwhelming. The fans, the scoreboard, the noise, the smells, the sounds - all in addition to the actual game of nine men on the field trying to keep other men off the field. It's all proof of the truth of those lines that James Earl Jones spoke about baseball in Field of Dreams:
The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again. Ohhhhhhhh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.

It's the thing we cling to, this game that we know so well. The game of our childhood, the game of our golden memories. For me, it is Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Roger Maris. For you, it's probably some other group of players. It doesn't matter. It's all the same.

Today, of course, I am an Astros fan. The Astros had a terrible year last year, but this year they have a new manager and some new players and spring training is in session. All things are possible. As Richard Justice said in his blog today, the Astros have had some great years and they have had some lousy years, but even the lousy years are better than they would have been with no baseball.

Forget the Olympics. Let the real games begin.

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