Dedicated to the memory of George Sparky Anderson (1934-2010)
“It’s designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything is new again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains comes, it stops, and leaves you to face the fall alone.” A . Bartlett Giamatti
The Pink Flamingo hates winter. I always have. This particular winter has been miserably cold to the point where I have almost hibernated. I’ve not bothered with much of anything except my writing. The world has passed me by, and with just a few brief moments, I could have cared less.
On Thursday morning it finally dawned on me, after all these years, why I abjectly detest winter. There is no baseball. It is like these hallowed lines:
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and little children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville–great Casey has struck out.
Ernest Lawrence Thayer
What goes on in the world really doesn’t matter. There is no baseball.
The Pink Flamingo doesn’t like winter clothes. I avoid winter, winter clothes that are dark and dreary, coats, jackets, and the trappings of winter like the plague. If the weather is too bad I simply do not leave the house. These past few days I’ve found myself thinking that on Sunday, when Spring officially begins (pitchers and catchers report) I can get out my spring colors.
My seasons have always revolved around baseball:
Spring = Spring Training
Summer = the Season
Fall = Post Season
Winter = No Baseball
Now it is spring. Like A. Bartlett Giamatti so sagely said, my broken heart is filing with hope of what might be. Today even the Braves might be triumphant (and pigs fly).
When I was a kid, my uncle told me I would never be a true baseball fan until I had taken my favorite baseball player from the opening days of his first season all the way to day he is sitting on that platform holding the plaque that makes him one of the Immortals. Then the game would never be the same, ever again.
He was right. The day MY MAN became Immortal the game was never the same. Gone was the magic and the since that all things were possible. The world has changed. The endless possibilities are just not there. They have been replaced by a sense of sentimentality, a sense of history, and a longing for once was good and could be again.
What really matters is that somewhere in this favored land the temperature is balmy and palm trees sway. In an empty ballpark can be heard the magical sound of a small white sphere rocketing into a large leather glove.
It is the sound of hope.
In a few days it will be followed by the equally hallowed sound of that small white sphere echoing off the top edge of a long piece of wood. That sound, in an empty ballpark, has no equal in the sensory lexicon of humanity. If you have never experienced it, you have my deepest sympathies. It is a reminder of all that is good in this world, and is again.
Once upon a time I could tell you ever stat, give you batting averages, league leaders, and percentages. Those were the days of the Big Red Machine. Today I doubt if I could even tell you who was in the playoffs, let alone who won MVP or the Cy Young Award. I can tell you who was elected to the Hall of Fame: Roberto Alamor and Bert Blyleven.
“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. Oh people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come” –Terrence Mann – “Field of Dreams“
It a sign of what was once good in this world – but can never be again.
BASEBALL IS BACK
The world is full of hope.