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A ray of hope, a clash of titans

Mike Olson Avatar
March 24, 2023

Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.
– J.K. Rowling

As much as I keep telling myself I’m giving up on my baseball fandom at the end of every Colorado Rockies season, there are so many things that keep pulling me back in to the grand old game…

For one, I just cannot stop myself from consistently tuning in to Patrick Lyons and Suzie Hunter, even during baseball’s offseason. Their insights into the game, and how the machinations of the on- and off-seasons impact the Rockies is insightful, entertaining, and illuminating, every last time. Aside from their joking making me do literal spit takes on occasion, and proximity to the laptop, I highly recommend.

Second, When I’m brainstorming, my dad’s old first baseman’s mitt is sitting next to my desk, and getting punched, over and over…

Third, the popularity of baseball up and down the Front Range already has youth teams of all ages into their early- and pre-season warmup tourneys. I’ve frozen my rockpile off the last two weekends watching games in Fort Collins and Cheyenne, and still felt Spring coming before the calendar actually said so.

Fourth, this guy has to come out every Sunday morning…

But fifth, and man did this light this season’s baseball candle… there was this…

and this…

and obviously this…

But most especially this…

Did you watch? Did you already see? I mean, odds are good you might have, as this most-recent World Baseball Classic ended on a note that seemed as if it could have only been written by a screenwriter. Teammates and friends from the Los Angeles Angels, Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout put on a show for the ages in the most-watched WBC game in history.

Moreover, the stellar display of baseball played by the 20 international squads that came together to play these games since the first week of March seemed to have made an even bigger impression on the players than it did on a buzzing and global fanbase. With players from every country lauding the emotions that playing for their nation can engender, many calling it “their Olympics” and the best baseball experiences of their lives. Trout hadn’t even stopped sweating from the final at-bat when he committed to the next squad coming down the pipe, with several USA players joining the refrain.

And while that division bred that healthy competition amongst the teams, it was amazing to see how many US-based fans were rooting for squads from all over the globe. Sitting in a decidedly US-centric crowd for the final game and the final out, it was incredible to hear how many fans had unintentionally shifted their allegiances, cheering for team Japan’s adrenaline-fueled win. The shift was amazingly reminiscent of a scripted sports ending, the Russian crowd’s shift at the end of Rocky III. Slowly but surely, the heroics of Ohtani, Darvish, and even Nootbar (?) had won over a sizable contingent of the crowd I had joined.

And maybe that’s exactly the shot in the arm the sport has been needing of late, gaining the kind of attention it seems to only receive from scandals and show pieces these days. With the failings and flailings of the game having pushed a lot of MLB’s fanbase to the edge, this kind of drama is exactly what the doctor ordered. After I got done missing Nolan Arenado for the jillionth time, I realized how much recognition this monster of a game was drawing to the sport. While there are a million ways to draw attention to baseball again, maybe the surest bet is just to remind the world what a great f—ing game it can be when played at its very best.


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