“There are three things you can do in a baseball game. You can win, or you can lose, or it can rain.”
Sonnet To Baseball
by Jeffrey Sward
From you have I been absent in the spring,
When proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim,
Hath put a spirit of youth in everything;
The aging umpire laughed and leaped with him.
Yet nor the cracks of bats, nor the sweet smell
Of different flowers in odor and in hue,
Could make me any summer’s story tell,
Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew.
Nor did I wonder at the baseball’s white,
Nor praise the deep vermilion of the glove;
There were but sweet, but figures of delight,
Drawn after you, your pattern sketched in love.
Yet seemed it winter still, and, you did call,
As with your shadow, I with these, “Play Ball.”
Shakespearean Baseball Sonnet #25
By Michael Ceraolo
Let those whose teams are favored by the stars
Of public honor and proud titles boast,
Whilst the team I follow such triumph bars,
Their not having won what I honor most.
Great cities’ teams are too often favored,
And have been for a century and more
For reasons already much belabored;
But even those of us who know the score
Are hoping against hope for our team’s day,
Keeping a wary eye on our team’s fight,
Hoping to be surprised at our team’s play;
A championship would be a welcome sight.
One day happy will be the team beloved,
With a title never to be removed.
For those of you reading this blog who are not baseball fans, you might not realize that today is opening day; the start of a new season, the promise of a new year.
Baseball is in my blood. Not because I ever played the game at a level beyond 7th grade, nor was ever any good, but because its part of the flow of the year, it’s part of my relationship with my Mother, it’s part of my daily existence for 8 months of the year from March to October. I wake up every day during the baseball season and the first thing I do is read the box score of the game for the Minnesota Twins from the night before. Baseball is part of my daily ritual.
Baseball is one of those sports that divides the world, into those that love it and those that don’t. For those that don’t, it’s impossible to explain, I’ve tried. Baseball is a language, a landscape and a history. Baseball is tragedy, comedy, hope, misery, a never-ending story, a common bond between strangers and a family drama mashed together. Baseball is a connection to a world better than the one we live in, played on a perfect patch of green grass, with the inevitability of triumph, futility, redemption, action, boredom, ineptitude, dedication, grace, athleticism, clumsiness and sloppiness all rolled into one. Baseball has first beginnings and the ends of eras, all over the course of another season.
Baseball is different from other sports. It’s not an event, its a timeline, its a discussion, its a year in the life of a team, a city, a player and a fan. It’s the most blue-collar of all sports and I’m not talking about their salaries or the cost of a ticket, I’m talking about the work ethic to be good at it. A baseball season consists of 28 to 30 preseason games, followed by 162 regular season games, followed by 3 rounds of the playoffs, best of seven. The eventual World Series Champions will play a minimum of 202 games in one year. It’s a lunch pail sport in which you have to show up and work hard, every day. It’s a game in which the best and worst team in the league will each win 60 games and lose 60 games. It’s what happens in the other 42 that separate the best from the worst. Its a game in which the best hitters will fail .666 percent of the time and be proud of their success one in three times to the plate. It’s a sport where we become attached to the rhythm of the season and individual careers, where you connect to the 20 year veteran or the one year wonder, the career minor league player who is called up in September to have their cup of coffee in the big leagues before starting the rest of their lives doing something else. Its a game where every year we watch a new rookie phenom launch their yet to be determined hall of fame career and the aging veteran that plays their last game and tips their hat to the crowd. Its a game, where as I aged, I rooted for the rookie that was my age, then rooted for the oldest player in the league that was my age, and now root for the players that are my children’s ages and someday, if I am lucky, will root for players that will be my grand children’s ages. Its a game where the retiring veterans mentor the next generation and the rookies inspire hope in the most grizzled cynic. It’s the circle of life, playing out, year after year. If this sounds grandiose, then you don’t understand my version of baseball.
Mostly, baseball is a game that connects me to the memories of my Mother. Through thick and thin, the inevitable issues that arise in Mother-son relationships, we could always talk about baseball. “How about that box score” was a phrase that brought us back round to what was important more than once, not baseball, but our relationship. It was our secret code to drop the bullshit and get on with it!
Baseball connected my Mother and I when she lived in Saudi Arabia and I called her in the middle of the night to tell her Kirby Pucket and Kent Hrbek had carried the day and won the World Series in 1987. Baseball tied us together for the 28 years when she lived in New York and then Oakland and we would plan a trip in June to watch the last game of the year in September, either in Minnesota or Oakland, whether the teams were good or not, and were fortunate to watch our team win the division in the final series of the year in more years than we ever believed possible. We went to a game of baseball as part of her visit to Minnesota or my visit to see her every year. Baseball is a game that regardless of the outcome of the games we went to watch together, we enjoyed each other’s company and the 9 inning conversation that ensued about our lives. It’s a game that brought out the best in our relationship and reminded us of what fun it is to be a fan of life.
Baseball is just a game in which one person throws a ball and the other tries to hit it where no one can catch it and how ridiculously hard that simple concept is. It’s a game where skill and luck and human fallibility play an equal role in success and failure. Sound familiar?
Play ball…..Go Twins!
P.S. My mother and I used to have Limerick contests. She usually won, but here’s one of my few winning entries…
A Pitcher Named Sylvester
by T. A. Fry
There once was a pitcher named Sylvester
Who had trouble with his pants polyester.
When during his windup
His pants would bind up
The parts that make him a mister.
He tried wearing a larger size jock.
And not tucking his pants into his socks.
But the only solution
To stop the contusion
Was to switch from pants to a frock.
His new uniform caused quite a twitter.
The fans jeered and threw at him litter.
But he stuck out his tongue
And won the Cy-Young.
While striking out the leagues best hitters!