Mar 31, 2011, 5:30 AM EST
It’s Opening Day. And as I do most Opening Days, I awake this morning struggling to place it in its proper perspective.
On the one hand, it’s a time for celebration and jubilation. After a long cold winter, our passion is back. And as so many have before us, we’re tempted to render it into purple prose. To hang red, white and blue verbal bunting from every facade and to offer odes to cut grass, bats cracking, hot dogs and organ music.
But to shoot the wad on Opening Day like that has itself become cliche. Indeed, on this day — and extending through the weekend, I assume — your casual fan coworkers will be overly excited about the return of the game. Your local paper will devote prime real estate to it all. Dilettantes of all stripes will come out of the woodwork to revel in what they will, for now, call our National Pastime.
But they don’t realize or appreciate or particularly care that the baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. And that in no event is it a championship bout that justifies the Main Event Atmosphere that will reign supreme on this day. That the long haul matters and that the team that in the final end wins the war after losing every battle is more important than who wins any one game today. Today they’ll go nuts about the beauty of it all. But come August these baseball tourists will disparage our game as boring and out of touch with today’s fast paced world. Come October they will compare unfavorably to professional football.
And frankly, I have no problem with letting the philistines do it.
Let them bluster today and tomorrow about the grandeur of Opening Day. Let them have their F-16 flyovers and gigantic American flags on the outfield grass. Let them have their A-list first-pitch-throwers make their appearances and let them trot out that Walt Whitman quote that is, in all honesty, tired and likely apocryphal. Even if all of this is, ultimately, beside the point and, indeed, antithetical to the point of the baseball season, it is harmless.
Because you and I, my friends, understand the essence of baseball. We appreciate that it is a six month work of art, and it can no more be captured in a gush of Opening Day enthusiasm than the first three strokes from Edward Hopper’s brush captured “Early Sunday Morning.”
We will enjoy ourselves today, but we will not get too caught up in it. For we know that baseball will be here for us next week. Next month. And on through May, June, July, August, September and October to keep us company. To be our companion on random Sunday afternoons and lonely Tuesday nights. To show us that its true value is not as a symbol or a spectacle, but as a game. A pastime in the literal sense, not the metaphorical one it has become to some. Our lives will continue on, day by day, but night by night we will have our diversion. Our little fix that does not require us to set aside our lives or entire days like some other sports or hobbies do. Something that just hums along unobtrusively, always there for us.
But that’s not until next week at the earliest. For now, we will grin and bear the overwrought spectacle that is Opening Day. And to be clear, we will enjoy it, because baseball-as-overwrought spectacle still beats just about anything else there is in the world. But we will also know, deep down, that today will be a little weird. And that we need only smile and endure until the heat blows over and we can enjoy baseball as God and Nature intended:Casually. Without much fuss. A drink to be savored and not chugged.
Until then, though: play ball.
Dec 11, 2013, 10:34 PM EST
Here’s an interesting one. According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Yankees have turned down a trade that would have sent outfielder Brett Gardner to the Reds for second baseman Brandon Phillips. It sounds like a pretty good match on paper, as the Yankees have a surplus of outfielders and Phillips would have helped fill…
Dec 11, 2013, 10:04 PM EST
Who said this year’s Winter Meetings were boring? According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, two unidentified agents got into a fight in the parking lot outside the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel this afternoon. At issue was that one of the agents apparently tried to take a client from the other. Read it and…
Dec 11, 2013, 9:35 PM EST
Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports that the Braves and reliever Jordan Walden have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $1.49 million contract. Walden was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. Acquired from the Angels for Tommy Hanson last November, the 26-year-old right-hander posted a 3.45 ERA and 54/14 K/BB ratio over 47…
Dec 11, 2013, 9:02 PM EST
The Blue Jays announced this evening that they have granted right-hander Thad Weber his release so that he can sign with the NC Dinos of the Korean Baseball Organization. The move clears a spot on Toronto’s 40-man roster in advance of tomorrow’s Rule 5 Draft. Weber has enjoyed success as a starter in the minors,…
Dec 11, 2013, 8:45 PM EST
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the Astros are in “serious discussions” with free agent Michael Morse. If he goes to Houston, he’ll be reunited with Bo Porter, who was the third base coach during his time with the Nationals. Morse, who turns 32 in March, batted .215/.270/.381 with 13 home runs and 27 RBI…
Dec 11, 2013, 8:16 PM EST
The Orioles have been pretty quiet at this week’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, but it sounds like that could change soon. According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Orioles have made offers to outfielder Nelson Cruz and closer Grant Balfour. No word on the specifics, but the thought is that they are willing to offer…
Dec 11, 2013, 8:07 PM EST
That seven-year offer to Shin-Soo Choo we heard about earlier? Well, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com has the scoop on where it came from: According to a source, the Rangers have a seven-year offer on the table to free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and he is giving it serious consideration. The offer is less than the…
Dec 11, 2013, 7:46 PM EST
The Mariners took two first baseman off the board earlier today by agreeing to a deal with Corey Hart and acquiring Logan Morrison from the Marlins. Could Mets’ first baseman Ike Davis be the next domino to fall? While nothing appears to be imminent, Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio reports that the Brewers, Rays,…
Dec 11, 2013, 7:28 PM EST
An answer on “Jeopardy!” tonight totally buys in to the PED hysteria: Oh GFY, Jeopardy — #TeamBonds pic.twitter.com/kRmi2daChD — James Kannengieser (@jameskann) December 12, 2013 That’s sad, man. I’d expect that from Sajak, but I figured Trebek was way cooler on the nuances of the whole PED thing and could see through it all…
Dec 11, 2013, 7:10 PM EST
Jose Veras served as the Astros’ closer this past season before a trade to the Tigers in July and now it appears that a return to Houston could be in the cards. Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reported this afternoon that the Astros made an offer to Veras which was turned down. The two sides are…
Dec 11, 2013, 6:52 PM EST
We heard earlier today that free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo was looking for a seven-year, $140 million contract, but he’s actually aiming a bit higher. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, the “general sense among teams involved” is that Choo will sign with whoever offers him an eight-year deal. The belief is that he…
Dec 11, 2013, 6:30 PM EST
After pulling off a three-way trade yesterday to land slugger Mark Trumbo, the Diamondbacks are currently looking for an impact starting pitcher via free agency and trade. And FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that they have one name at the top of their list. Sources: #DBacks' No. 1 target is Tanaka. Continue to explore trades,…
Dec 11, 2013, 6:16 PM EST
Yesterday I ranked major league managers by handsomeness. Ron Gardenhire came in at number 28, unfortunately. Couldn’t be helped. It’s just science. Well, his inner beauty is off-the-charts, because here he is, quite pleased, about his ranking: I do not know if Clint Hurdle (30) and Ron Washington (29) feel the same way and, frankly,…
Dec 11, 2013, 5:47 PM EST
You may have heard … it looks like the New York Yankees will retire Joe Torre’s number. That is absolutely the right thing to do — heck Billy Martin’s number is retired — and it brings us just a little big closer to one of the cooler number things in sports: Very soon the first…
Dec 11, 2013, 5:37 PM EST
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL — Joe Torre just addressed the media at the Winter Meetings to announce the latest developments on instant replay. The latest: not many developments. Torre said that the matter was discussed at length with managers and general managers here this morning and that, while the league has given general approval of…
Dec 11, 2013, 5:27 PM EST
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Mets have agreed to a two-year, $20 million deal with Bartolo Colon. Colon going from out of baseball in 2010 to throwing 507 innings with a 3.32 ERA over the past three seasons is a remarkable story, especially considering he was 38 years old when the comeback began.…
Dec 11, 2013, 5:17 PM EST
No doubt feeling pretty bullet proof after fixing Francisco Liriano the Pirates and pitching coach Ray Searage have taken on any even bigger reclamation projection in Edinson Volquez. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that Volquez has agreed to a one-year, $5 million deal, which is pretty nice money for someone coming off a 5.71 ERA.…
Dec 11, 2013, 5:10 PM EST
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL — Joe Torre and Sandy Alderson just announced that the MLB Rules Committee has voted to outlaw collisions at home plate. The decision is now subject to approval by the players. If the players do not approve the rule change it will not go into effect in 2014, but MLB would…
Dec 11, 2013, 5:00 PM EST
That’s all I can assume he’s doing here anyway, when he was presumably asked if the Phillies might pursue Matt Garza and Ruben Amaro talked up his incumbent pitcher Kyle Kendrick: Amaro: “Kendrick has 64 wins. You know how many wins Garza has? 67.” — Matt Gelb (@magelb) December 11, 2013 A second possibility:…
Dec 11, 2013, 4:51 PM EST
Houston picked up some pitching help, getting right-hander Anthony Bass from San Diego for a player to be named later or cash considerations. Bass had a 4.08 ERA in 187 innings for the Padres, making 18 starts and 57 relief appearances, but he’s gotten progressively worse following a very strong 2011 debut with shoulder problems…
- Report: Two agents rumbled in the parking lot at the Winter Meetings 8
- Mets sign 40-year-old Bartolo Colon for two years, $20 million 35
- MLB rules committee decides to eliminate collisions at home plate 42
- Mariners sign Corey Hart to incentive-laden deal 27
- David Price would not consider an extension with the Mariners if he’s traded there 35
- Robinson Cano agrees to $240 million deal with Mariners (260)
- Report: Mariners willing to offer Robinson Cano a 10-year, $240 million deal (143)
- Report: Yankees have agreed to a three-year deal with Carlos Beltran (125)
- Brett Gardner is drawing “significant” trade interest (113)
- Managers, GMs to meet today to discuss the abolition of home plate collisions (113)