The weather has been pretty mild in general this winter and spring in the bay area, and, though there have been fits of rain, in general the days have been pretty warm. In fact this afternoon, as our dogs were lounging in the sun of the western exposure of our home, the temperature inside hit the high 70's. Which means it is easy to enjoy the weather, but as in many other years, a drought is threatening with the Sierra snow pack being down.
As is pretty well-documented by now, I spent last weekend in New York, playing in and helping coordinate Tout Wars in what was pretty cold weather, actually. While I was goofing around in Manhattan with my buds, Diane and her girlfriends had five days away up at our Tahoe house.
I only saw the five of them--Cherie, Deb, and Beth, who still lives in Chicago, and Dee Dee, who is in Alaska working on a PhD--for a few hours, for Thursday morning Diane accompanied the Chicago contigent back to the Windy City to visit her mom for a few days while Dee headed back for Fairbanks.
During that brief encounter, our respective cable came up as a topic (obviously a compelling issue) and Diane's friend Deb said she "could not function without Monday Night Football," but that baseball was pretty slow and dull to her.
Now I too love watching all the NFL has to offer, but it does puzzle me that baseball--which has roughly 220 plays a game if each pitch counts as a play--is slow, while football with its 90-100 plays, and only 60 minutes of actual play over three hours worth of broadcast, seemed so much more compelling than a play every 10-12 seconds over pretty much the same three-hour time frame.
The truth is since my last foray with illness last December, I have been pretty happy to simply be here walking around with my feet on our familar earth, so I was not really interested in engaging Deb much more than noted above. And, it is not that I don't consider football cerebral, for it is truly chess in action in my view.
But baseball, ah, sweet baseball offers so much more philosophically and spiritually than any other sport in my view.
So, on the eve of the 2013 season, I thought I would indulge myself (and ideally my poetic license) with a few thoughts around why baseball is so beautiful to me.
Renewal: Maybe the most important aspect of baseball, where a 60% success rate for a team and a 30% success rate for a hitter suggests dominance, baseball comes in the spring when the flowers are blooming, when the sun is returning and when anything seems possible. For it is true, on Opening Day, every team is in first place, making hope "spring" eternal.
Compelling: I understand tension can be subjective, but to me there is nothing more exciting than a 1-0 game, especially when the one run is a lead-off homer. OK, coming from behind to win in the late frames is also exciting, but back to the 1-0 contest, that means essentially every time a pitcher lets the ball fly--or 220 times--the balance of the game hangs. For 1-1, or 2-0, which can have a huge difference, are just a pitch away.
No Time Limit: What can I say? It ain't over till it is over, and there are no ties in baseball. I have seen some crying, but never a tie during the regular season.
Pretty to Watch: OK, football, and all sports can be pretty to watch as watching someone do something remarkably athletic is always hypnotic. But with its leisurely pastoral setting and a catcher facing in a different direction than the rest of his mates, baseball simply commands a loping gracefulness I have not encountered in much of anything else.
The Zen: You never really know what will happen, despite a complex book of rules. Strangeness abounds in baseball, or should I say mystique? I like to think all the plays and final disposition of a baseball game is pre-determined, and as we watch, fate is simply revealing the natural order of things to us, before our very eyes.
I could go on, but, well, I think you get the point. And, well, I am really happy to simply be watching another season.
Today it was announced that Buster Posey, the Giants great young backstop, signed a nine-year extension to his contract, meaning he will be a Giant until the year 2021. Well, god willing, I will be almost 70 by then. I hope to keep on waxing poetic in the spring every year up until then.
Happy Baseball Season everyone (and, Easter and Passover as well).