Spring training is here. Pitchers and catchers began reporting yesterday, a couple of weeks earlier than normal to make room for the World Baseball Classic at the end of March.
So, I was looking around the internet for pictures of Spring Training to insert here. Came across this one. Not sure exactly what it has to do with Spring Training, but, well, you know, I’m a guy and every once in awhile, a little eye candy isn’t a bad thing. You know what I mean. To my readers of the fairer sex, my apologies.
But, you know, I’ve been reading in a lot of places lately about how all I need for sex is a picture like this. You know, show me some boobs and say hubba-hubba and I’ll be ready to go … Oh wait, never mind. That’s a different post. Let me get back to my original point. Which was this.
It’s baseball. The sport that inspires more poetry than any other major sport. Football is a game of brutality. Played by freaks of nature who can take inhumane hits and bounce right back up and 320 pound hulks who bash each other around. Basketball, a game of athleticism — although less and less of it as the years go by — in which the sport has boiled down to endless pick and rolls and isolation plays.
Baseball, though is a game of leisure, of numbers, of a timeless quality. It is a game not just for artists and poets, but mathematicians and statisticians.
It makes no difference what the clock says. There aren’t quarters of 15 minutes or halves of 30. There is no time limit. The game is done when the last out is recorded and one team has scored more than the other.
A baseball season is a story that unfolds over 162 games. Ten times the number played in the NFL and twice that played in the NBA or NHL. It is a long haul. A battle to survive from the cold of the end of winter, through the heat of summer, and into the first frosty nights of the next winter. This is the thing I love the most about baseball. From the end of February through the darkening days of October, it is a daily thing. A story with a different chapter every day.
Every field is different than the other. The dimensions and the view. The history and the drama. The Green Wall. The shrine at Yankee stadium. The stupid mound in center field in Houston. The ivy-covered wall of Chicago.
And, here in Northern California, where the World Series drought ended in a season of perfection in 2010, only to be repeated in 2012, with amazing comebacks in the postseason, we have McCovey Cove, Willie Mays Plaza, splash hits, and a city, fan base, and team that has reached this incredible synergy of positivity (I know, not a word), and yes, love. Baseball is a sport of art and poetry. What’s happened in San Francisco the last couple of years has ratcheted it up a notch. The pre-game sermons of Preacher Pence, the calm steadiness of Buster Posey, the washing away of the Bonds taint, the 43,000 fans who pack the stadium for every home game, the character of Lincecum, the quality of Cain, the steely determination of Bumgarner, the zaniness that is Zito, and the sheer love of the game and of life of the Kung Fu Panda.
There’s no doubt the beauty of what is the San Francisco Giants at the moment will not last. Nothing like this does. But it’s difficult to imagine that there has ever been a team and a city that has so bought into a thing that is baseball. Maybe even a thing that is beyond baseball. But, that’s the beauty of baseball. Sometimes, in its best moments, it is about something more than what happens between the lines. It’s about art and poetry and so much more. No other sport has this over the long history of the game. No other sport.