Hope Springs Eternal: Opening Day and the Timelessness of Baseball


March is the cruelest baseball month. Well, besides October. Here on Marlin Maniac, all over the Internet, TV and even real newspapers, time and energy has been spent analyzing, macro-analyzing, micro-analyzing and meta-analyzing the winter. Which team did the most? Who didn’€™t do enough? Is Ruben Amaro, Jr. the man with the least common sense in all of baseball? March is full of open-ended questions and answers that pose even more thorny questions.

Now, April is the month when those questions get answered, perhaps not fully, but at least with some degree of certainty. April is the month where all the potential energy of the offseason becomes the kinetic energy of actual baseball. But even more importantly it is the time of the year that life becomes meaningful and interesting again.

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I’m not saying that I don’€™t like the NFL and that I don’€™t enjoy March Madness or a premier nationally televised NBA game. What I’€™m saying is that there is nothing as satisfying than the prospect of six or seven months of unadulterated baseball ahead.

Starting next Monday and lasting until the end of September, life will have rhythm. First pitch at 7:05 almost every night and all the joy and sadness that it brings: inexplicable passed balls, ill-timed strikeouts and clutch base hits.

The most beautiful part is the connection that this ritual of watching a baseball game gives us, to each other and to our own past. On a warm spring or summer evening when you are watching baseball you are doing what countless others have done and are currently doing all over this country. The game brings us together and is one the few things that a large section of the American population has in common.

There are baseball fans — not the casual fan — but those live and die with every pitch, know the name every Major League umpire and have a very deep opinion on the designated hitter and the scourge of maple bats.

Baseball and its season has a rhythm all its own. April brings hope, May and June realization, July acceptance, August torment and September either frenzy or resignation. No true baseball fan leaves a season the same person that they were on those April days. Your hopes are either dashed by reality or somehow your favorite team exceeds your wildest dreams. Many of teams with plenty of hope ultimately wilt during those dog days of summer while some surge when the warm breezes blow cool in September. The only way to know what will happen is to watch a season unfold and hope that all that analysis and thought actually translates into a winning team when things are said and done.

Ultimately, baseball is the greatest sport because of these rhythms and patterns over six months and 162 games. Most anything can happen and that’s what baseball fans live for, to watch not just their own team, but to see the great moments the pastime offers every night for six months: the walk-off home runs, the no-hitters and the moments of brilliance with the glove that make us all go “wow”€ and tip our caps, even to our most bitter rivals.

Baseball is here, and it’€™s not going anywhere until the leaves start falling from the trees. And I couldn’t be happier.

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