Now that we have had both leagues hold their opening days (Seattle Mariners beat the Oakland A’s in Tokyo to open the American League & the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Miami Marlins in the International city of Miami to open the National League), most fans look forward to this weekend’s opening games.
At present, baseball fans everywhere believe this to be their season of hope. Young players vie to merge into the limelight of legendary heroes past and present. Star players look forward to see what this season will bring. Older players see if their muscles and bones will hold up for another year. Umpires, with a brave face, call the plays as they see them. Some will see them better than others. Managers will visit the mound countless times to make the decision whether there should be a pitching change, which could determine their longevity in The Show. Third base coaches will flash the signs to both the batter and runners aboard. Some will miss the signs. Others won’t.
The first base coach will stand there.
There will be squeeze plays, double plays and an occasional triple play. Teams will win and they will lose. Batters will hit, ground out, strike out, line out, fly out, pop out, walk and get hit, and on occasion smash a homer. Pitchers will throw balls and strikes, sometimes ‘just a bit outside’ as the ball crashes against the screen behind the batter’s box.
Kids in the stands will mix popcorn, hot dogs and cotton candy as the perfect diet washed down by a cup of soda (or pop or soda pop, depending where you come from — po-tay-toe or po-tah-toe). Dad’s will have their traditional Brat (or Italian or Polish) and a beer (Miller in Milwaukee, Bud in St. Louis, Coors in Denver, Molson in Toronto, National Bohemian in Baltimore, SweetWater 420 Extra Pale Ale at the Ted in Atlanta, Anchor Steam in San Francisco, I.C. Light at PNC in Pittsburgh, Mac & Jacks African Amber at Safeco in Seattle, Old Style in Chicago & Lone Star in Arlington. OK. sometime we’ll publish the top beers in every major league ballpark.).
We will all see the mound and the rubber, rosin bag, the plate, the ball, the bat, the bag, the chalk line, the coaches box, the hot corner, the keystone corner, the on-deck circle, the bullpen, the dugout, the cap, the batting helmet and the ignominious signs, ‘No Playing Pepper Here’ and ‘Beware of flying bats and balls’. (OK. the ‘No Pepper’ sign doesn’t exist anymore. But it is my hope…).
We will go into that stadium, that great big temple to the game with the grass as green as green can be (except in Toronto where they still play on synthetic turf), with a season of hope in front of us. We will probably come out with the accessories of the game concluded, a lighter wallet, the dubious pennant (never folded), the program (‘Can’t tell a player without it.’), the ticket stubs and if we are lucky, a game ball that Dad caught as a player fouled one into the stands, making it the highlight of his life.
As we leave the ball park with the sounds of the kids asking if they can be carried to the car, the season of hope begins.
Oh ya, one more thing. The home team wins. Maybe they will never lose a game this year.
It is indeed a season of hope. The marathon we call a season in The Show is about to begin.
And it all starts with “Play ball”.