Baseball marks the start of spring
Greg Hadley | Sunday, March 30, 2014
My bracket is not busted. That’s too mild a word for what happened Friday night. It was destroyed. Annihilated. It would have been better if I had just given up at the start and picked at random. Tom Izzo has surely sold his soul for March magic, but I foolishly doubted him and picked Virginia to win.
So why do I not care? Well, for one, it is 53 degrees outside right now ¾ proof that God has not forgotten South Bend. For another, Monday marks Opening Day for Major League Baseball. Please, let’s ignore the opening series in Sydney. It did not make sense and was a pain for all the players and coaches. While we are at it, let’s move past the opening night game between the Dodgers and Padres as well. If the MLB feels the need to add a few extra million to the billions they already make, then I guess Sunday night works, so be it.
But Monday is the true Opening Day for baseball fans. It is a day when skipping school to catch the day game is not only accepted, but expected. Though, to be fair, day games are always a good excuse to skip school. Opening Day is, unofficially, the first day of spring, when every fan ¾ except for Cubs fans ¾ thinks that this could be the year.
With 162 games to go, every team is in it. Last season’s champions, the Red Sox, were picked to finish last in their division last year by pretty much every expert, while the Blue Jays, the 2013 preseason World Series favorites, crashed and burned, landing in last place in the American League East. That is the beauty of baseball.
Of course, for every enthusiast like me, there is a corresponding sports fan who hates baseball because it is too boring, too slow and too low-scoring. The game unfolds so slowly, they say, and, even when something happens, it is nowhere near as exciting as football or basketball. The rules are arcane, and every good player is obviously on steroids.
There is no point trying to convince these people of the beauty of America’s pastime. Heck, they probably already saw “baseball” in the headline and flipped to the next page. If you are still reading, you are almost certainly a purist who knows that, sometimes, you need an attention span longer than 30 seconds to appreciate a sport. Not to mention an eye that can pick up on the subtleties of a sport that comes down to a margin of inches or even less.
Baseball fans like this can sound pretentious and a little out-of-touch with what actually sells today. Like it or not, baseball is a business, so it should come as no surprise that if most people find baseball boring or the ambiguity of the rules frustrating, then baseball executives will try to change the game. Executives want to shorten the length of games. Replay is being instituted for the first time.
Purists have decried and will continue to decry these changes for ruining the game, and supporters of these changes will respond that they have saved the sport from becoming a relic. For the most part, they are right, of course. Baseball has made plenty of changes over the years, and it is ¾ at least in part ¾ because of those changes that the sport is still here.
Still, as a purist, I don’t particularly mind sounding a little pretentious. As much as I like other sports, there’s simply nothing like enjoying a summer night at the ballpark, watching a good baseball game. That may be the most clichéd image in American history, but people still use it today because it rings true.
So forget about March Madness, the NFL draft, the playoff chase in the NHL and everything else. When someone looks irrationally happy this morning, there is no need to ask why. It’s because it is Monday and this Monday, at least, belongs to baseball.