Friday, January 16, 2009

Baseball's Gift

It was cold in the Bronx today.

It was like the cold I experienced in Syracuse, but, at the same time, it was different.

In Syracuse, you don't really talk about the weather a whole lot. It snows and snows and snows, it's dark, and it's cold. It's the type of cold that makes it hard to breathe, that physically hurts you when you're outside.

It was that type of cold today in the Bronx, but, strangely, awkwardly, unexpectedly, the sun showed up and stayed most of the day.

I'm not used to this, this reminder that yes, this, too shall pass, this hint that in half a month baseball will regale us yet again and in three days we'll see something many people thought that they would never see in our lifetimes.

Although this off-season for the Yankees has been longer than the 2007-2008 off-season, it feels shorter.

I don't know why. It just does. Maybe it's because it hasn't been this cold for weeks on end, maybe it's because it hasn't snowed for months on end, maybe it's because I know this year's not a leap year.

See, that's the thing about baseball. No matter how dark or cold the night in the dead of winter, you know that spring will come again.

It's a sport that's built on hope--it has to be, because otherwise the Chicago Cubs would have gone the way of the St. Louis Browns a long time ago.

Unlike basketball or football or hockey or soccer, there's no clock in baseball. A game can be played in two hour or five; it can be played in five innings due to rain, nine or go as long as twenty-two. A team can be up by six runs in the ninth and still lose the game, and it's not something that only happens once every ten years--it happens, almost without fail, every season.

There's a reason that Dodgers fans could always get away with "wait 'till next year!"--because they understood that next year would come. They never gave up hope, and in 1955, next year came.

It came for the Red Sox in 2004 (obligatory shudder, of course), and it will come for the Cubs.

Even when the temperature dips below 0, when I'm outside wearing four layers and two scarves, when it's so cold that it becomes exhausting just to walk three blocks, the sun can still come out and remind us that baseball will be back again. That the hope inherent in a baseball season will be back again, one more time.

This is baseball's gift to us, and why the issue of who you're a fan of isn't nearly as important as the fact that you are a fan.

Because if you're a baseball fan, you already know that there's nothing in the world more important than hope.


  1. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  2. Sarah: Thanks for stopping by, I hope you continue to enjoy it!

  3. Good post. The promise of a new baseball season is the ONLY thing that makes tolerating winter worth doing. (However, I'm a Royals fan, so the payoff isn't always very big. But still.)

  4. Nice essay. There is nothing that can compare to the hope and expectation that accompanies the start of the baseball season. I'm sure that the beginning of spring has something to do with it.

    And while we Yankees fans obsess about what to do for a 5th starter, poor Minda roots for the Royals, and isn't even old enough to remember when they were good.

  5. "It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it goes .... And Summer is gone."
    -A. Bartlett Giamatti

    My favorite baseball quote - this article reminded me of it. Beautiful writing, as always... Keep up the good work!