Wednesday, April 8, 2009

In Praise of Our National Pastime

Yesterday was opening day for my favorite baseball team—The Boston Red Sox. Opening Day is special, a time of hope and the beginning of another year. It marks the change of seasons; we emerge from the cold and dark of the winter and begin to look towards the summer.

Baseball is unlike any other sport we have in this country. They play just about every day. No matter how good or bad your last outing the last game quickly becomes irrelevant. The season has a tide-like ebb and flow with streaks and slumps, wins and losses.

The game is timeless, it binds the generations together. I’ll always remember my first game with my father. I’ll never forget the first game I took my sons to.
Over the years legends long gone remain in our consciousness--Joe DiMaggio, Jackie Robinson, Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, or Hank Aaron.

I commend the Red Sox and Cubs and their commitment to their respective parks; Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. I have been to both parks and have fond memories of each. As I sat in those venerable old parks, the summer sun melted away the cares of my daily life and I was ten years old again sitting next to my Dad. I thought of my father sitting with his father in Brooklyn’s old Ebbets Field.

As the Yankees move across the street this year I can’t help but think of what they have lost. No one will ever stand where Joey D stood. The home of Gehrig, Jackson, and even Bernie Williams will forever be gone.

Although I am a Red Sox fan, I have great respect for the Yankees tradition and all the success they’ve had over the years. I cannot understand how they can turn their back on all the ghosts of championships past….

The 2009 season has begun, it is time to hope that my favorite team will grow from the early days of spring into a pennant contender in the late summer and early fall.

The pitcher will have to stand alone looking for the catcher’s sign with the count full and the bases loaded. The batter will try to fend off the pitches that speed, or slide, or dive, or curve. The infield will play in, expecting a bunt. The vendor will walk the aisles singing “Who wants a Hot Dog?” All will rise for the seventh inning stretch and “Root, Root, Root for the Home team.”

Amid all the changes of the ages the basics of the game have never changed. That is what I love about Baseball. Now, about that Hot Dog…..