You can feel it. You can smell it. It’s here and I love it. Spring. The new beginning. The warm weather, the longer days, the cool sunsets and the feeling of excitement you have in your gut for surviving another winter. Those are the emotions I feel today after running until sunset and realizing that baseball’s opening day is just over a month away.
Sports Illustrated mirrored my passion for the game when reporter Jonah Keri opened his piece on Friday with these visionary words, “Wait a minute! Do you hear that? The pop of catchers’ mitts, the chatter around the diamond, the glorious thud of flipped bats crashing onto the grass … baseball is back, baby!” I was leaving a parking garage and walking towards my meeting across Seton Hall University’s campus earlier this week when I heard the sounds of the game, much like the description SI used to grab his readers’ attention.
At first, I couldn’t place the sound. Was it water dripping onto a metal plank? Was it a construction vehicle completing a maintenance project? No, it was clearly a sizzling baseball hitting the leather of a catcher’s mitt and I was loving it. Baseball is the kind of sport that grows on you because it can be exciting and relaxing all at the same time. Some think it’s time to move the game along- speed it up and get it over with, faster.
“Baseball has a choice: Do nothing or modernize the game, as all other sports, Hollywood and every entertainment company are doing. Imagine if baseball does nothing. If we continue at the pace of the past decade, by 2026 a ball will be put in play only once almost every four minutes, 35% of all plate appearances will end without the ball in play, and the average game will include 20 strikeouts. It will be the most static sport this side of chess,” reported Sports Illustrated last week. So…
All this talk about speeding up the game to get with the times and modernize baseball really upsets me. When I think of spring and summer, I think of longer, lazier days. Quiet evenings watching baseball to relax and unwind should not be replaced by rushing through innings so we can keep our audience’s attention. There are times to speed things up and there are times to just relax and lose yourself in the moment. Just enjoy. Just be. Baseball is one of those things. Just leave it alone.
At the end of the winter after braving the cold weather, the prize at the beginning of spring is baseball. As James Earl Jones said at the end of the iconic baseball move Field of Dreams, “The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.” Enjoy the smells, enjoy the cracks of the bat and pops of catcher’s mitts, enjoy the time spent and don’t rush through the innings to get to the parking lot. Enjoy baseball and enjoy the start of the 2017 season.
Experience it. Live it. Love it.
BYB Managing Editor