Getting close to Opening Day. It’s exciting!!
Opening Day of baseball season is one of the best times of the year. If you’re a baseball fan, that is. Nothing like going out to the ballpark to cheer on your team, yell at the umpires, partake of some concessions (peanuts and sodas for me), go wild when one of your guys hits a home run (or one of the opponents strikes out), and just enjoy yourself for a few hours watching this great game.
And Opening Day is great, because every team has the exact same win-loss record. Every team has the same chance of getting all the way to the World Series, and winning a championship.
Anything can happen. Two years ago, the Chicago Cubs won for the first time since 1908. Last year, the Houston Astros won for the first time in their team’s history.
Who will it be this year? The fans can’t wait to find out.
Baseball has always been in my life. When I was a kid, we lived close to a minor league ballpark, and went there often during the summer to see a game. I’ll always remember my dad catching a foul ball one time, and handing it to me. I was probably about eight or nine years old. He was about as big a hero to me then as ever.
Then, in the early 1970’s (yes, I’m that old), Major League Baseball came to town, and I have followed the triumphs and travails of the Texas Rangers ever since.
(The 2011 season is still a sore subject. I tell you, we were this close, this close, to our first ever World Series championship, and we blew it. Some heartbreaks, you never get over.)
I had always watched the game, but it wasn’t until 1997 that I came to understand and appreciate the subtle nuances of it, after reading a book called The Baseball Fan’s Companion, by Nick Bakalar. It was that book that taught me the strategy behind pitching, hitting, baserunning, base stealing, signs and all the rest. Turns out, baseball is a much more complicated game than it appears to be.
And that’s what makes it great. It looks simple, but there’s a lot more going on than just scratching and spitting.
One thing that will make this season more interesting is the implementation of some new rules intended to speed up the game. Now, when I first heard about this, I was kinda worried. Speed up the game?, I thought, That’s the beauty of baseball, that it goes at its own pace! What are you guys doing? I mean, there was even discussion about adding a pitch clock, so pitchers would only have so much time between each pitch.
I might have boycotted baseball if they’d gone through with that!
Fortunately, they didn’t, but some other changes will be implemented this season, on a trial basis, to try to make the game move along a little faster.
I guess it’s a good idea; we’ll see. Hardcore baseball fans are very resistant to change. It may take awhile to win ‘em over.
Nevertheless, it’s an entertaining way to spend some time. Even just listening to a game can be entertaining, just to hear the announcer call the game in a language all its own: “One on, one out, here in the top of the seventh. Hamels is trying to get Altuve to hit into a double play, so the Rangers can get out of this inning with no runs scored on them. Hamels sets, here comes the pitch…strike on the inside corner, and the count is now two and two! Hamels froze Altuve with a slider that time…”
There’s just something hypnotic about it. I think so, anyway.
It’s a terrific game. If you’ve never checked it out before, why not give it a try? If you want to get into it a little deeper, I recommend the book I mentioned earlier. And if you’re lucky enough to live near a stadium where a baseball team plays, even a minor league team, go attend a game or two.
And try to catch a foul ball for me.