I watched a moment of the Cubs vs Yankees at the new stadium on MLB.com yesterday. I would have watched it all, but I couldn’t stand having to wait for it to buffer every pitch or so. If letting me watch it on their new channel was supposed to hook me into buying a subscription, they blew it.
But I sincerely can’t wait for the beginning of baseball season. There is nothing better than waking up in the morning, turning on ESPN and being greeted by Baseball Tonight. It is my favorite way to spend the AM.
I wish I could explain why I enjoy baseball so much. I grew up watching Harry Carrey butcher names and blow calls. But my true love of the game did not blossom until years later: after we came home from the Far East. Maybe I needed to feel American again.
There is nothing quite like it. Football is fast and violent. You either freeze to death in the winter, or sit inside a stale dome. Basketball is something I never played, and therefore have a hard time enjoying. Hockey, well, I am not able in the slightest to follow the movement of the puck. I usually only know that they tried to score after they show the replay about how they didn’t. And I can’t watch a game where almost scoring is the highlight of a game. No, soccer is not for me.
But baseball, oh the joys of baseball. You sit outside in the fresh air (depending on the stadium, I suppose ) soaking in the sun, enjoying the beverage of your choice. It is being outside with a purpose. So you don’t just feel like you are wasting your time.
They call them the boys of summer, even though the season starts in early spring, and goes almost to Halloween. Here in Chicago, they still play the majority of the games during the day, under the light of the sun, not under the glare of the lights. It is as if time stops for a few hours. And there is no better place to have it stop than Wrigley Field.
It is the home of Babe Ruth’s called shot. The first park to have vendors walk through the seats. The first park to order lights and the last to put them in (they donated the first set to the war effort during WWII ). There was once a game where both pitchers had a no-hitter through 9 innings. And the scoreboard that scored that game is still standing in the outfield bleachers. No one has ever managed to hit it, though one Cub hit a homer onto one of the rooftops. Once, only once.
My grandfather took us to games when we were little. That was when you could just show up and get decent seats. You could spontaniously decide to cut school or work and take in a 12:05 start. Not so anymore. I suppose that is a good thing. But it makes you wish it was simpler.
Because at the root of it, baseball is a simple game. “You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains”. And sometimes they break your heart. But sometimes, just sometimes, they play so well and with so much heart it makes you want to jump out of your skin.
I believe that someday my boys of summer will bring glory home to the Northside. I believe it because it would be statistically impossible for it not to happen one day. And also because I just believe that loyal fans will be rewarded. They have to be, whether you are from Boston, Chicago, or any of the other cities that cheer and hope. They just have to be.
So this Monday I will watch the season begin. The 101st season since our boys went all the way. And this year, like every year, I will listen to “Go Cubs Go” and hope that “this is the year!”