Sunday, January 27, 2008

Days until...spring

It has been a long winter, not in terms of snow, but in its consistency. Snow came early this winter and has hung around. On top of the 2 or 3 feet of snow that had been on the ground since November we have had bone chilling cold over the last several weeks. It is difficult to get motivated to do anything when the wind chill is 18 below.

Winter has me looking forward. It is 111 day until my daughter's marriage, 86 days until the Santana concert, 50 days until St Patrick's day, 47 days until the Springsteen concert and 18 days until pitchers and catchers report. The promise of spring and summer.

It is the reporting of pitcher and catchers that is the most warming. Baseball season will begin its annual spring renewal where every team, with the possible exception of the Kansas City Royals, will believe they have a chance to win the World Series. Winning 20 games will dance in the eyes of starting pitchers and hitters feel that 300 is within their range. Mostly they are wrong, but it is glorious to believe that it could happen.

Baseball for me began in my home town in the mid 50's. Like many small Midwestern towns we had some level of semi pro baseball, be it a town team or a single A team that carried the name of a real big league team. We had the Yankees, not my cup of tea as a childhood Cleveland fan, but never the less it was fun. Nothing more fun than sitting down the right field line chasing foul balls with the occasional sprint to see if we could get the home run ball. I think you could get a quarter if you returned the ball. Big money in the 50's.

Following baseball on what passed for TV in the 50's was all about Saturday afternoon, Dizzy Dean, Pee Wee and Hamms beer, from the land of sky blue waters. "Reese asked what the pitcher threw. Diz: "I believe that's a baseball."

In the 70's I was in a major league city and I could go to games. By that time I was a Giants fan and since I lived in SF I could follow them closely. They were somewhere between poor and average during the 70's, but they had great players like "dirty" Al Gallagher, John Montefusco, Dave Kingman. I also was able to experience the decline of the Willies, Mays and McCovey. I spent many a cold summer night at the stick watching the promise that never was, but cheering and hoping anyhow.

To me baseball is one of those events that calls out to you to relax. It takes as long as it takes and should not be rushed. Although when leaving the stadium you should always strive to be the first to have witnessed the last out and be the first out of the parking lot. A distinction that Joe and I held until we left SF. In fact I think we are still in the annual Giants media guide.

18 days and spring will begin, snow and cold will remain, but in my heart I know it is spring. Go Giants!


Joe said...

Aside from things that really matter, like family, one of my proudest moments is Kevin's and my undefeated streak at a game in which we were the only players. Now that might sound like damning with faint praise, but we were so dominant at this game, no one could have even considered challenging us.
I'm not sure who invented this game, but in all likelihood it was the one of us who used to have insect races across his basement bedroom floor.
In any case, the rules were simple. You went to a Giants game at Candlestick Park, stayed until you actually saw the last out- the game had to be over. Then you attempted to be the first car out of the massive parking lot. We would sprint down concourses, fly down the sloping walkways, race out the door to Kevin's car, and calmly drive to the nearest exit.
Of course, this game was practical, allowing us to get home earlier, but not by leaving early, a mortal sin to both of us.

Anonymous said...

The game is still being played by Kevin, except this time it's at Creighton basketball games. You will watch the entire game from your seat(he has great season tickets) except for the last minute. You will watch that from the top of the concourse, where when the clock ticks 00:00 Kevin will turn and say "...OK, lets go". Ah, memories.