Archive for Thursday, March 25, 2004

Opinion: Baseball has officially arrived

March 25, 2004

There's just something about baseball.

A few weeks ago I was sitting around killing time one afternoon. I flipped on the TV and there, on ESPN, were the Yankees playing the Phillies.

Surely this must be some tape of a game from last year or even two years ago, I figured.

After all, I hadn't seen any baseball on my TV screen for a good four or five months.

But there was Alex Rodriguez in pinstripes, playing third base.

When I saw that my heart soared.

Not because A-Rod was playing for the Yankees. I hate the Yankees, and seeing the game's best player playing for them would usually make me nauseous.

But seeing A-Rod in his brand new uniform meant this game was live and that baseball had officially started, even if it was only the preseason.

There's something about seeing that first baseball game of the season that no other sport can touch.

The NFL's exhibition games are good for one quarter, but taper off quickly after the first-string quarterback has thrown his five passes and goes to the bench.

Exhibition games in the NBA and NHL are practically invisible. But baseball gets my blood flowing.

Part of it's because I grew up in Minnesota, where the winter drags on and on and you start to wonder how many more afternoons you can sit inside your house, which slowly seems to be closing in around you.

In Minnesota you learn to relish the Twins' first appearance on TV, because it means the temperature will soon be above freezing and you'll finally be able to walk to the mailbox and back without putting on your boots and parka.

Yes, of course, the Twins play in that soulless, vile, covered Metrodome, where no natural light gets in. But still, they're playing baseball and even if they're playing it indoors, I know that it means the weather's getting nicer outside.

The other great thing about baseball is that it's a slow, laid-back game that fits perfectly with the mood of the approaching summer.

As I slogged through year after year of school, the coming of baseball always meant that it wouldn't be long before I could toss the books aside and sit down to enjoy a few months of luscious laziness.

There's no professional game that lends itself to laziness like baseball.

You can sit and kill three blissful hours, and you don't even have to pay very close attention.

There'll be plenty of breaks in the action so that pitchers can circle the rubber, hitters can step out and adjust their batting gloves, and managers can come out to the mound and signal for pitching change after pitching change.

That gives all of us fans a chance to make a quick trip to the refrigerator for a refreshment or outside to take in some sunshine.

At this point in the year the holidays are a distant memory.

People have been working and going to school without a break for too long.

We've had ice storms and snow piles high enough to stall cars.

But that's all over now.

Baseball's here.

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