I am so ready for baseball. I get like this every year. I don't count the days to spring training until after the Superbowl. Then it gets intense. I survived the Blizzard of 2016. There's snow on the ground. There's more snow in the forecast. I'm sick of snow. I'm ready to trade my boots in for the crack of the bat, the whistle of a line drive, and the pop in the glove.
There's something about baseball that just feels right, that brings everything into focus and alignment. I love the Yankees, but the love of baseball became even more real to me this past September when I got to catch a Giants game at AT&t Park in San Francisco. I was there for a business conference, and thanks to some good friends, I was able to sit in one of the luxury boxes for the game. It was an amazing night.
Since it was not in New York, it was only natural to be surrounded by people who were not Yankees fans. I got to meet some great baseball fans. I met Pat, a marketing director from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and an ardent Red Sox fan. It didn't take long to get into the debate. By that point in the season, the Red Sox were in last place and well behind the pack, but it didn't stop the die-hards. Arguments about the rookies coming up, who was going to pan out. We both lamented prior off season acquisitions that went bust. It was a good baseball conversation watching a good game.
Then there was Jim, who was a techie like me, and also a blogger for a site supporting his hometown Chicago Cubs. We swapped some stories and analyses on our respective teams' chances of making the playoffs, with only a couple of weeks of regular season left to go. Unlike the Red Sox (sorry, Pat), our teams were still in the hunt for the wild card. This Giants game was more meaningful to Jim than me, if only because the Giants were one of the teams still making a run for the NL wild card. But it was great talking about each others' players, and just talking baseball.
The game itself was pretty dramatic. The Giants were playing the Reds, and even though the Reds were out of it, the Giants still had a shot. Besides, the Giants were the defending World Series Champions, so they had some pride on the line. The Reds jumped out to a 3-0 lead early, only to cough it up a few innings later. After the Giants took a 5-3 lead after 6, the Reds blew it wide open with a huge 5-run 7th. Still the Giants kept inching back until the ninth inning when they were down 8-6. Aroldis Chapman (who knew?) came in to close and Angel Pagan led off with a double. One out later Matt Duffy singled him in. Then hometown hero Buster Posey came to the plate. I'm not even a fan and I could feel the excitement in the ballpark. I joined in the cheers as he singled in the tying run. Even though it wasn't meant to be - the Reds' Todd Frazier led off the tenth with a home run which ended up being the game winner - it was a great night of baseball. (Big thanks to Doug and Phoebe for making it happen!)
Which brings me back to today. I'm sick of snow, and political races, and everything else on TV right now besides baseball. As of Superbowl kickoff time, it will be just under 11 days until pitchers and catchers have to report. Less than 2 weeks after that, they play their first spring training game. I want to see 9 guys in Yankees pinstripes take the field. I want to see a pitcher toe the rubber and begin his wind-up. I want to hear the crack of the bat and the whoosh of a slide from the infield dirt. It's long overdue.
Lemme hear it: PLAY BALL!