Today is opening day and something ought to be right with the world. No, all is not right, but something is different about today than yesterday and the day before. That something is baseball.
Baseball is everything yesterday was not and tomorrow will be. How is this? It happens because baseball lives in the present, with every at-bat, a pitch is thrown, and a catch lands in an outfielder’s glove. If we blink, we miss it. Look away for a second and our lives are changed. When the umpire says, “Play ball,” we don’t want to forget a thing. Baseball is both a game of experience and memory.
Once you take your seat at the game, whether in a major league park or the dusty benches of a little league (or school game), you join the team. You may be related to no one on the field, hail from a distant land, or just enjoy the taste of hotdogs. For one reason or another, you are there to cheer, laugh, cry, and embrace the anger of arbitrary rulings. Eventually, someone will be called out. A decision will be contested by a coach, a manager, a team, or even a parent. This is part of the glory of baseball. Everyone present is able to witness justice unfold.
There are no decisions punted to higher baseball authorities. There are no four-page summaries on who stole third base. The umpire makes the call. The kid from up the street is safe, or he is out. The decision stands. No one is bitter or angry. Everyone gets up, goes on, and continues play. There are no vendettas in baseball. You’ll find, no hearings, no interviews with the press, or appeals to higher umpire authorities. The game goes on as it has for over a century. This is why today is not like yesterday. Everyone understands the rules. Unless you get conked on the head by a foul ball, most people have fun, and the generational gift of baseball keeps on giving.
From somewhere in centerfield,