Every year right about this time I get the same feeling. The same feeling I got as a young man on the dawn of my first game of the year. Getting up early Saturday morning, just before the sun had risen. The smell of the crisp spring air, the dew on the sharp blades of grass, the smell of my dirty leather mitt, the old crusted mud on my cleats, and the feel of the stitches on a brand new baseball. It was the dawn of a new season, and a dawn of a new beginning. The day we all start off in first place with the hopes of making it to the championship. I am 35 years old, and it has been 9 years since I have stepped foot on a baseball diamond. Even so, I still get the same tingling in my stomach for the game that is more a passion to me, and almost as important as food or water. When I played, I forgot about everything going on around me in the world. As a child, the everyday worries about getting my home work done and avoiding eating my vegetables, and as an adult, not worrying about work, paying the bills, or pissing off my ex-wife. Today represents a new chapter in the never-ending novel called baseball; in which the old are introduced to the new, and the new introduced to the old. There will be many stories told during the season that may have been read before, and like every year, a new chapter will be added to the story.
The game of baseball does not discriminate against people based on height, weight, age, speed, agility, and these days race. If you can hit a baseball, throw a baseball, or catch a baseball, the game will find a place for you. What role you have is not determined by your 40 time, but if you can run, baseball will find a place for you. If you are nearly 50 years of age and considered over the hill, if you can play, baseball will find a place for you. If you have no overwhelming talents in either category, but you are a professor of the game, baseball will find a place for you. I challenge anyone to find a game outside of slow pitch softball that can boast the same.
Many Pro-sports leagues tout that they have the best athletes, and they are the most difficult to play. I will challenge any athlete from any sport to stand in against a 100 MPH fastball, an exploding 90 MPH slider, or a mind bending 12 to 6 curve. I challenge those sports to play 6 days a week for 6 months, and see what kind of shape they are in. Bare in mind, most people work a 5 day work week for 40 hours. Pro ball players play, practice, and travel almost 70 hours a week. That is a grueling 6 month stretch, not to mention if they play in October.
The images of the grass, the box seats , the bleachers, the parks, the lights, the umpires, the coaches, the players, the vendors working the seats, the peanut shells crushed under our feet, and the sun rising to its peak are all the images I will need in my heaven called, Major League Baseball!
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