Opening day of baseball. It’s an important rite in my life and has been since I was young boy. It’s the quintessential American way to finally put winter to rest – regardless of the actual weather.
I’ve loved baseball ever since, as a nine-year-old boy, I started listening to the Pirates broadcasts of Milo Hamilton and Lanny Frattare. Hamilton didn’t last long in Pittsburgh but Frattare managed to broadcast Pirates games for thirty-three years.
There’s something uniquely American about baseball. Much of the world doesn’t understand it, and, living overseas before the Internet, I was cut off from the game for many long stretches in my life. But every chance that I had to get a hold of an American newspaper, I would check the standings and, of course, the box scores. I do love my statistics.
In this day and age, living overseas and watching Major League Baseball is not difficult task. A quick MLB subscription and I can watch every out of market game (which in Malaysia is all of them) live or on archive. It’s quite amazing.
I especially love when I have days off. The game will start at 7 AM my time. I can eat breakfast while watching and let my morning slowly take shape. By 10, the game is done and I have the entire day still ahead of me. On work days, well, at least I still have the archive feature.
Baseball is the most unique and best game ever created. It’s remarkable, actually. It’s a throwback, a lazy afternoon, a chat with neighbors, a moment of boredom leading to a minute of euphoria. It’s unlike any other game. How you ask? I’ll answer with a series of questions of my own.
What other game has such a uniquely shaped field? The perfect diamond of the infield, and the green, fanning grass of the outfield which can end at any number of distinct and creative fence outlines. No standardization here.
What other game is played when the defense has the ball?
What other game is an individual struggle in the midst of a team sport? I had a former boss who said it perfectly about baseball: it enables kids (and adults) the fertile moment in the spotlight – each better gets his individual turn to shine in success or have to deal with the outcome of defeat. Although individual success on the field is no assurance of victory because it’s a team sport. Someone has said that if baseball had been invented by the ancient Athenians, then the gods of Olympus would have settled their scores with a rousing pitcher-batter duel.
What other game allows natural breaks to ponder and discuss strategy or life?
What other game has been so uniquely intertwined in the fabric of America?
What other game can boast such a heady list of writers who have become the game’s ambassadors?
What other game can make me so excited for spring?
(I’ll see you in November.)