Welcome back, sweet baseball.
We pray from Seattle to Florida and from Toronto to Texas to you to give us the elixir of October success.
Over the next few months we’ll fall back in love with our stadiums, from the Green Monster at Fenway to the Green Monster Ivy at Wrigley. We’ll hope to see a player fall up the hill in Houston, fall over the fence in Arizona, or crash headlong into a superstar at Yankee.
We can’t wait to rehash our conversations at the park. Would Alex Rodriguez or Manny Ramirez ever get into our all-time hitters team? Will Joe Mauer be the best catcher of all-time? Who’s going to be a better pitcher at the end of their career – Roy Halladay or Nolan Freakin’ Ryan? Frankly, I’m rooting for Ryan. There’s no rumor he’s thinking of coming back, by the way.
Well, one thing’s for certain, Halladay hasn’t yet hit a batter in the face in the same way that Nolan Ryan got Robin Ventura back in the day. Ventura must still regret rushing the mount. We can only hope for a Prince Fielder vs Carlos Zambrano fight – it’ll be like the battle of King Kong on the mount, live from Miller Park. The smart money’s on Fielder, by the way. On that point, can you imagine the headlines if Hideki Matsui went looking for blood? “Godzilla takes [add team here]” you can see the Times say.
Speaking of blood, we’ll talk about some of the best fights in baseball. Can anyone top the fight between the Orioles and Yankees in 1998, when Darryl Strawberry pulled out one of the greatest punches since Mike Tyson? We’ll try and goad our bench to empty and fight, even if our team’s down 10-0 with two outs in the ninth. We’ll jump around a lot and get on the opposing hitter’s back – especially if he plays for the your hated rival.
In our minds, we’ll constantly be battling the manager, the pitcher, the batter, the fielder, the third base coach, the first base coach, the umpire and the owner for making the mistakes that cost our team a shot at the game, the division, the league, the play-offs, the World Series. And Steve Bartman, get the hell away from me.
White Sox fans will ask older folk about “Disco Demolition Night” at Comiskey, while teary-eyed Yankee and Tiger fans will recall “Stadium Demolition Night” when the owners took away the two stadiums that bore our teams’ names. “True, these are great stadiums, but they don’t hold the aura of the old places,” says your father, your uncle and your grandfather, seemingly in unison, before your grandfather starts to recall the Boys of Summer at Ebbets Field, even if the math between him living and Jackie Robinson playing doesn’t add up. I-Tune night, live from Petco Park, doesn’t have the same ring, does it?
We talk about potential Hall of Famers, and whether I’m hoping for Ken Griffey Jr to get into the Hall more than you are, and whether Barry Bonds should be in the discussion. Heck, we enjoyed the early 2000s almost as much as the Summer of ’98, when the long-ball was the talk of the bar, the town and the nation. We don’t forgive McGwire for letting us down, even though in our heart of hearts we knew that this superfreak was eating a little more than Cheerios every morning. We pray that Albert Pujols will break McGwire’s record – and we hope and pray that there’s nothing on him that we should but don’t want to know about.
And sadly, we’ll also reflect the careers where the talent seemed to outmatch the brain power. Darryl Strawberry may have won a World Series title or two, but he spent more time on the white lines than running them. Bo Jackson crushed home runs, but he got injured. How many would Griffey have had if he hadn’t gotten injured? How good would Milton Bradley have been before he lost his mind?
We can’t wait to see you again, sweet baseball, and thank you, in advance for giving us a huge set of memories: you take us out to the ball game, where we can root, root, root for the home team. Even if, at least 60 games a year, they screw up and ruin your day.
Hell, it’s better than having no baseball at all, isn’t it?