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It's that time of year...

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I can’t wait for this day to begin.

Even though the calendar said that spring arrived 10 days ago, to me it starts today. I can’t contain myself. It’s BASEBALL SEASON.

All of you know that I am a big fan. I played the game as a kid like most of us did, even you ladies, and as an adult, I played softball for over 20 years.

Baseball is a symmetrical game played in asymmetrical stadiums. The foul lines are at 90 degree angles stretching out from home plate to the outfield walls. The bases are 90 feet apart at 90 degree angles, making a square turned onto one point creating a diamond. For over 150 years, the distance of 90 feet has been the standard. And after all the development of the human athlete in terms over power and speed over that time, a cleanly fielded ground ball and accurate throw will still beat the most fleet-footed of runners.

The game has been played by teams known as “The Bronx Bombers”, “The Bums”, “The Gas-House Gang”, “Murderers Row”, “The Hitless Wonders”, “The Big Red Machine”, and the “West Coast Sock Exchange”.

Players were affectionately known as The Babe, The Iron Horse, The Yankee Clipper, The Splendid Splinter, several named Lefty, and more recently, Charlie Hustle, The Big Bopper, Big Dog, The Big Unit, and The Kid.

Baseball is even present in our movie culture. In Lethal Weapon 2, Mel Gibson refers to the 7th inning stretch. In National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Aunt Edna yells “Play Ball” at the end on the National Anthem.

The game has been passed down through history by great storytellers like Red Barber, Mel Allen, Bob Prince, Ernie Harwell, Marty Brennaman, Harry Carey, Curt Gowdy, and one of my all-time favorites, Vin Scully.

 Granted, Baseball isn’t perfect, and they’ve had their own history of sinners over the years. The 1919 Black Sox Scandal, Pete Rose betting on the game, and the Steroid era just to name a few. But Baseball survives.

Baseball is even in our nation’s music. We all know the words to Take Me Out to the Ball Game. There’s actually a verse that goes with it, but I don’t know the words. Bruce Sprinsteen sang of “Glory Days”, and John Fogerty of CCR fame hit it big with “CenterField”.

Baseball even has its own superstitions. Crash Davis tells Nuke LaLoosh in Bull Durham, “Never mess with a streak”. When I played, depending on which side of the field our bench was on, I would always step on First Base or Third Base when coming off the field. Wade Boggs always ate chicken on game day. He even put out a cookbook titled “Fowl Tips”. Sparky Anderson would never step on the foul line when making a visit to the mound. Many players would refuse to wash their uniforms if they were on a winning streak. I bet it could have gotten pretty gamey for the Indians (Guardians) a few years ago when they won something like 22 straight.

Baseball is a game built on failure. The greatest hitters fail 65-70% of the time. It’s the only sport where every play starts with the defense in possession of the ball. You have 1 batter against 9 defenders. It only takes 3 strikes to make an out, but 4 balls for a walk. Especially at World Series time, You have a pitcher throwing a ball less than 3” in diameter at a speed of about 100 mph, over a space of about 60 feet, and the batter has a rounded stick about 1-1/2 inches at it’s largest point trying to hit it with 50,000+ people screaming in the stands. But the pitcher doesn’t stop there. He puts spin on the ball, so it moves from side to side or up and down in the strike zone making it that much harder. Some pitchers go the other way, and put no spin on it at all, These knuckleballs are at the mercy of air currents, and the pitchers and catchers don’t even know where they’re going. All this, and the batter only has about 2/10ths of a second to determine where the ball is going, whether it’s a fast ball or curve ball and whether or not to swing or maybe duck.

I see I’ve gone on for quite awhile, so I’ll finish. I had the privilege to write two Biographies at a previous job, Ken Griffey, Jr. & Barry Bonds. I may share that with you another time. But just remember, Hope springs eternal. Baseball starts today.