There is no delicate way to transition from the real world surrounding you as you read this into sports. Except to say that if you are here and reading, we all have at least one thing in common: We are baseball fans. And it is hard not to feel like somehow just the possibility that we might all gather around a ballgame one day in the future could bring some comfort somewhere.
It doesn’t help that way down, but still on, the list of things to be angry about right now is a seemingly intractable battle between MLB owners and the players. Over money.
But for just a brief moment, and for just the baseball part of your heart, I’d like to offer a few words to to settle the soul.
Baseball will be there.
Maybe not now. Maybe not soon. But it will be there.
There are those who are concerned that the fighting over money, or safety, or principle will lead to a year without baseball. The Summer of Our Discontent.
A summer without baseball is a dark thing indeed. Like a song without a tune.
Do warm Sunday afternoons feel empty without day games? Will the changing colors and falling leaves feel less vibrant and wondrous without the soundtrack of cracking bats and popping gloves to accompany them this fall?
Will there be anger and sadness and resentment and even prolonged grudge holding by those who may never be able to fully forgive either the players or the owners for failing to come to terms during a time when so many just want desperately to enjoy the national past time and forget their troubles for a few hours of the day?
But baseball will come back. Baseball will be there. Baseball forever rolls on. Like an army of steamrollers.
Baseball survived segregation and integration, two World Wars, the reserve clause, strikes and lockouts at every new CBA, raising and lowering the mound, collusion, free agency, the DH, and the Wild Card. And the second Wild Card.
Baseball has been wounded, we don’t yet know how deep, but wounds heal. And our game has that Wolverine healing factor.
Baseball is a part of who we are. It is a symbol of what we strive to be. It is a reminder that the most flawed among us can be perfect for a single moment. It is a canvass to display our every failure. It is a light that shines in the darkness and sometimes it is even the darkness itself.
It is as constant and necessary as the winds or the tide. You can no more remove baseball from the American experience that you can the grains of sand from every beach. It is in our blood.
As long as there are fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, grandparents and grand children, or just a group of friends who enjoy having a game of catch, baseball will be there.
I don’t know when the day will come but one day the sun will rise over Coors Field and the sprinklers will ignite and the shadows will stretch across the diamond and the security guards and front office staff and coaches will arrive early as ushers, concession folks, media and players trickle in behind.
There will be ticket sales, and peanuts and beer and hot dogs and ice cream in a helmet and vendors who sing and kids in full uniform and glove out for their first ballgame. And you will wait in line, patiently discussing today’s pitching match-up and how “they blew it last night” but how they might still have a shot if they can get hot. The anticipation will build inside of you.
And you will pass through the turnstile and have your ticket scanned and walk around the whole stadium even though you know exactly where your seats are. You, of course, arrived in time to watch your favorite power hitter put on a display in batting practice and strike up a competitive but friendly conversation with an opposing fan.
You might buy a shirt or a new jersey and head out to your seats in the sun to watch the final preparations of the starting pitcher. And then, something magical will happen.
Baseball will be there.
The first pitch will raise your heart rate. You remember what it feels like. This is it.
“Strike one,” yells out the umpire as the lead off hitter watches a first-pitch fastball graze the outside edge of the plate. And then it will be real.
I can’t tell you will happen from there. That’s the beauty of baseball. But they will throw the ball, they will field the ball, they will hit the ball, they will run the bases, they will scale the walls, the will dive and dazzle and once again play the most beautiful game in the world.
You can’t destroy baseball. You can’t remove it from the foundations of our very being. Sometimes it goes away for a moment, but it always comes back. As long as imperfect people dream of perfect moments, baseball will be there.
And we will see you at the ballpark.