I harbor no fallacious and premature notions that this Wasatch winter is over. Indeed, it is snowing now as I write. Nor do I believe that there are not several outright miserable, cold, and altogether deplorable days that are waiting for their page to be turned. No, winter is not over. In fact, one would wonder if it has even yet begun. However there is this week a bright and shining light penetrating the cloudy, dark, and blustery days. A sign from the gods that the globe is undoubtedly turning and the days becoming longer and brighter as that inevitable thaw of spring approaches, navigating its way from the far reaches of the Southern Hemisphere.
This is, of course, the week that pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training.
Which means that someplace in Arizona or Florida that chalk lines are being drawn, and red dirt diamonds are being manicured into veritable works of art. That hot dog makers and those people who hand-stitch baseballs are working overtime to prepare for that first and liberating cry of “play ball”.
You do not have to appreciate OPS and OBP to recognize the beauty and the symbolic celebration of Spring Training. It is though, for everyone of us, a signal and a beacon that however long, and however cold, that winter does invariably end. That light and warmth will overcome the depths of dark and cold. You do not have to be religious to recognize that in this case, there is indeed life after death. And the first breath of that new and glittering life sparks from the pastoral and American game of baseball.
Is there nothing better than following up 3 hours of singletrack with 3 hours of high-def baseball?
And to those who claim that watching baseball is slow and boring and boring and slow, I can only point out, with a small amount of sarcastic and demeaning tone that “you are doing it wrong”. But you would be half correct in your observation. Baseball is slow. Not boring. Never boring. (And I will spare highlighting the reality that a football game, with it’s frequent huddles and instant replay reviews can be far more tedious to watch. ) Ed Abbey realized that the slow, deliberate nature of baseball is one of its great attributes when he said that “baseball is a slow, sluggish game, with frequent and trivial interruptions, offering the spectator many opportunities to reflect at leisure upon the situation on the field: This is what a fan loves most about the game”.
There is an anticipation to the game of baseball that is unique and particular. That moment when the world is silent, on the edge of its seat, as the small leather bound sphere travels that 60 feet 6 inches at remarkable speeds – holding men and women and children in an anticipatory trance. In that flash of time, not unlike the coming of spring itself, anything is possible. Hope lingers in eternity and indefinitely in that one, hanging moment. It is dramatic theater repeated over and over and over. Spectators and fans are constantly alternating between leisure relaxation, and the subtle intensity of the countless and possible outcomes of each and every pitch. Baseball is America, in microcosm. It is, to quote Cactus Ed one more time, democracy in action; “each player is equally important, and each has a chance to be a hero.”
Nevertheless, you may prefer not to watch. But as one who embraces the rising of the summer sun and the streaking joy of snaking aspen singletrack, the arrival of baseball each year ought to be a joyful and renowned moment of illustrious reunion.
That is to say, that when pitchers and catchers report, one can be certain that our time is near at hand.