Since it's now summer, and the outcry from the readers has gone on long enough (ha!), I decided to write the second half of my Spring and Sports article. If you haven't read the first half, feel free to do so by clicking here.
Before beginning, I ate a little. My meal consisted of a Starbucks vanilla frappuccino, popcorn, Lipton raspberry iced tea, and three of those peanut butter on cracker sandwiches (the ones with the day-glo orange crackers). Strangely, I enjoyed it all quite a bit.
As I begin to write, my mood is better, thanks in part to playing
some Word Racer and hearing a soccer announcer yell, "Boom-shakalaka!"
So here goes.
One interesting aspect of spring is the reemergence of all the plants as they begin to bloom again. Nothing signals spring for me quite like the reappearance of my favorite springtime plant (you guessed it): Astroturf.
Astroturf means Twins baseball is beginning, which means baseball itself is starting up again, and that means good times. With opening day occurring virtually simultaneously with the end of the NCAA basketball tournament, the excitement level doesn't even have time to dip back to normal. This is more proof that Spring is the most exciting and enjoyable time in the world of sports.
I know that right now some of you might be thinking to yourself, in a Mora-esque fashion, "Baseball!? Baseball!? Are you kidding me!?...Baseball!?" But don't get alarmed, I know baseball has it's problems. In fact I'm starting to wonder if the players, owners, and the commissioner all get together during the offseason and figure out how they can best alienate all of the fans. The meeting would go something like this:
Commissioner: What have you owners got for me this year?
Owners Representative: Well mostly the same stuff as last year. You know, raise ticket prices, threaten to move the teams, and get tax payers to fund new stadiums.
Commissioner: Not bad. And how about you players?
Players Representative: Well we can continue to ask for more money, complain that we are underpaid and get no respect, remain aloof toward all the fans, and pump ourselves so full of steroids that our testicles will actually cease to exist.
Owners: Well done. We'll be happy to pay you those obscene salaries. And good luck with the testicle thing.
Commissioner: Well, I'm afraid I've outdone you all this offseason. Baseball will now undergo, or at least threaten to undergo...Contraction!
Owners: Genius! Nice work.
Players: This won't get in the way of that whole strike/lockout thing we've got going with the owners will it?
Commissioner: No you can still do that.
Players and Owners (in unison): Sweet.
Then they all go home happy because not only will no one want to follow baseball, but many will be financially unable to take their families to games.
But despite all of the problems, springtime baseball remains a classic piece of Americana. It's right next to apple pie, Norman Rockwell paintings, and Price Is Right contestants consulting the audience before each and every move.
Actually, baseball can be enjoyable all season, but it is especially fun in the Spring. The optimistic feeling of the season permeates into the beginning of the baseball season. It's a clean slate. Hopes are high. "This could be our year!" is a common sentiment. As an added bonus, opening day 2002 featured a special, "Look, our team still exists" feeling for us Twins fans.
Amid all this excitement, baseball's problems take a back seat to the fun of the new season. So, for a moment, you don't focus on things like contraction, labor issues, or the fact that the skinny, 150 pound shortstop from last year is now so juiced up that you mistake him for Bald Bull. You simply focus on the game you've grown to enjoy so much over the years.
Throw in the fresh-looking uniforms, the not-yet green walls of Wrigley, the memories of past seasons, all of your own game day rituals, the singing of The Star Spangled Banner and Take Me Out to the Ballgame, stadium hot dogs, malt cups, the familiar voices of the play by play and PA announcers and suddenly you have an almost overwhelming urge to break out into an impression of James Earl Jones in Field of Dreams. Or even an impression of Harold Reynolds as James Earl Jones.
"It's part of our past, Ray."
- Jon might buy a new pair of sandals soon.