I know the media is looking at the negative. I know every one is
talking about the size of Barry Bonds' head, I know they are looking at the
Diamondbacks' offseason pickups and wondering how they spent so much on so
little, I know they are talking about how Major League Baseball can't afford
But let's be honest, this is the best time of the year isn't it?
If you love sports, then you absolutely have to love the month of
March. March Madness, the NBA, even the NFL is still there (memo to Mr.
Parcells, Drew Bledsoe is OLD).
But really, it is all about baseball. It is all about fresh cut grass,
overpriced beer, sun burns and socializing. Everybody's equal, everybody's
got a chance. You're a Royals fan? You're still in the race.
You're a Yankees fan? I'm sorry. If you're a Diamondbacks, White
Sox, or Rockies fan, Tucson is the center of the universe for the next
month. Everybody's got questions, and finally, for the first time in what
seems to be forever, those questions actually have something to do with the game
Who's the #5 starter? Will it be Koyie Hill, Chris Snyder or Kelly Stinnett? Is Troy Glaus healthy? How is Gonzo's arm?
These are the questions that matter now. Not who's on the juice, not
what the Grand Jury Testimony really revealed. Yes, steroids will hang
over this season, and many more to come, but it's different now. I woke up
yesterday and turned on ESPN. There was baseball. I know the
pitchers are going one inning, I know the lineups aren't set, and I know the
rosters are 80 deep, but it was big league baseball.
I love this game, I love it so much that I came back after the strike.
I love it so much that my favorite team hasn't won a World Series in nearly 100
years, and all I can think about is that Boston broke their curse, '05 has to be
the Cubs year, right? I love it so much that I will argue until the wee
hours of the morning that Ted Williams was the greatest of all time, and I will
wake up the next day convinced that it was time well spent.
I love the game. I love the commercials. I miss the warm timbre
of Vin Scully's voice. I miss the insight of Joe Morgan, I miss the
homerism of Mark Grace, I miss learning something about a game I have watched
and played since I was four years old.
There's a Nike commercial running right now. Albert Pujols and Mariano Rivera are featured along with several football players. The music is
dramatic, the masks are more so, but there's one shot, of Pujols just swing his
bat back and forth before he comes set into the hitting position. It's
poetry. Just the bat, swinging back and forth. There's perfection in
baseball, literally as we saw from Randy Johnson last season, and
metaphorically. David Wells' windup, Ken Griffey Jr's swing, the way Derek Jeter slides across the bag. Tori Hunter going over the wall to take one
It's magical, and the beauty of baseball is that it will happen to every
team, many times over, this season. Wins and losses are for the
unimaginative. There will be spectacular plays, incredible pitches,
dominating performances produced by players on every club this season, the
Diamondbacks included. Who will they be?
Will it be a Javier Vazquez fastball painting the black? A Shawn Green
rocket into the pool? Will it be Jose Cruz turning a run scoring double
into a WebGem or a 6-4-3 double play? Will it be all of those, or will it
be something we've never seen before? I hope it is all of those things and
more. I hope it is a division race that comes down to the final day, the
final out. I hope it is a sacrifice bunt that puts a runner in scoring
position, I hope it is a rookie stepping up in crunch time. I hope it is a
double steal, I hope it is a lefty lefty matchup. I hope it is a fastball
pitcher against a fastball hitter with a 3-2 count.
I'm going to come out and thank the players, the owners, the Commissioner,
and those in his office. I know there are problems in baseball, but they
just seem to fade away when these men cross the lines. For three
(sometimes four) hours all the problems fade. We identify new ones during
the game (middle relief, clutch hitting), and in an instant they are gone (a big
strikeout, a sacrifice fly). We cheer, we boo, we harass umpires and
opposing players. We recognize the greats for what they brought to the
game and what they brought to our society and most importantly for what they
brought to our lives. For time spent with mothers and fathers, for bonds
forged with friends. For tears shed out of joy, frustration, and
What am I thanking them for? I'm thanking them for being here, I'm
thanking them for caring. I don't care if they play for a love of the
game, or for a paycheck, or for the girls or the fame. They all want to do
their best, and they all will do their best, no matter what their reasons.
The best in the world playing the greatest game in the world.
I love March.
Email James Renwick at FutureBacks@cox.net