It has been so far a winter of regret, grief, and soul-searching, what with the shootings in Tucson, Ariz., and the uprisings in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East.
Enough fretting for a moment, I say. It's time to play ball.
Thankfully, it is baseball season, and not a moment too soon for the national pastime to reappear in our lives. I know — it is "only" spring training right now. But I'll take it, thank you very much. We need any port in a storm, to help take out minds off suffering and bloodshed. Baseball will do the trick quite nicely.
I swore to myself all winter that I would NOT spend so much time in front of the tube, watching my beloved New York Yankees play in 2011. Swore it! So, naturally, when the Bronx Bombers opened the exhibition season on Feb. 26, there I was, perched in front of the tube watching the game — Yankees vs. the Phillies, perhaps a World Series preview — for a while on the Yes Network. And loving it.
What is it about baseball that brings out the kid in all of us? We don't thirst for NFL, NBA, or NHL pre-season games in the same fashion, right? Of course, not. Only for baseball do we turn into 9-year-olds.
Thanks to the steroids era, baseball will never again have any kind of innocence. We have known about the underside of baseball ever since Jim Bouton wrote "Ball Four" about the 1969 season. While the world enjoyed the ascent of the Miracle Mets that season, the Seattle Pilots pitcher/author was jotting down notes about the ball players' affections for greenies (pep pills), women, and rough back-of-the-bus humor. Both stories made the pastime seem pretty wonderful.
Four decades later, baseball still seems pretty wonderful to me. The San Francisco Giants did a nice imitation of the pitching-rich, championship-bound Mets last season. Maybe another Cinderella squad will amaze us fans and have another brilliant run at the title. Maybe it will even be my Yankees!
But it doesn't matter. Kicking and screaming, no doubt, I'll sit perched in front of my TV set for the nest eight months watching the Yankees and the Mets — the local teams here in NYC — and the others go at it. And I'll be loving it.
Jon Friedman writes the Media Web column at MarketWatch.com. Click here to read his latest column.
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