by SHELBY MORGAN//Staff Writer
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
No, not Christmas. I’m talking about baseball season. Spring training is in full swing in Arizona and Florida, and opening day is just weeks away. The weather is warmer, the grass is greener, the days are longer, and all is right in the world again. From March to October, the world is a better place.
Some might say that baseball is boring. But to others, baseball is more of a religion than a game. There are 108 beads on a rosary and 108 stitches on a baseball. Coincidence? I think not. There is fear of curses and superstitions, and fans and players can be seen calling on the baseball gods with rally caps and stacks of baseball caps.
If you aren’t a believer, clearly you didn’t witness the Cubs breaking a 108-year curse to win the World Series after a rain delay, as the 10th inning was about to start. They won Game 7 of the World Series in the 10th inning with eight runs after a 108-year drought. It takes 108 outs to win the World Series, 27 outs per game times four games equals 108 outs. It’s proof that the baseball gods like to play with numbers.
My love for baseball runs deep. Just like the Babe said, “Baseball was, is, and always will be, to me, the best game in the world.” I was raised on a baseball diamond, and spent every summer cheering on my best friends. I quickly learned the difference between a screwball and a curveball, and can list the eight ways a player can make it on base. I’ve stood on my feet and held my breath as I watched the ninth inning of a high school state game come to a close with a line drive to center field that scored a run for the other team, ending a high school career not only for the boys I loved as brothers and spent my childhood watching, but for myself as well. It was the end of an era, and I knew it would be the last time they would all play together.
Baseball is bigger than just a game. It’s a camaraderie that turns teammates into friends and friends into family. Bonds are formed during long practices, weekend tournaments, and dugout heart to hearts. It is a brotherhood that starts in t-ball that is strengthened until the last time they ever play together as seniors at State. Those bonds can never be broken. There are memories made in hotel rooms and on long bus rides that they will one day give a speech about at each other’s weddings.
It’s more than just learning the fundamentals of the game. It’s learning important life lessons with every swing of a bat. In baseball, and in life, you never know what the next inning holds. Live for the here and now, because time isn’t guaranteed. You never know just what is coming next.
You can’t control bad calls, but you can control how they affect you. Attitude is everything, and the way you handle a situation is all in your attitude. Sometimes you foul off a couple pitches before you connect. Keep trying. Your pitch is coming.
You can do everything right and get out, or you can do everything wrong and get on base. You can hit a line drive up the middle, only for the ball to make it to first base a half a second faster than you and be tagged out. You can also make it on base because the catcher dropped the ball on your third strike.
Baseball teaches you the ability to deal with failure. Errors are going to happen, and there will be instances when they aren’t yours. But you deal with the hand that you are dealt, and work on improving your mistakes. If you strike out, at least go down swinging. Life doesn’t always go as planned. If it did, your No. 4 hitter would be up when the bases are loaded. You come to the diamond to learn baseball, yet you leave the diamond learning life.
Find a Little League field and watch what is arguably one of the best games you will ever see played While little boys are playing their hearts out they’re learning about life, before the mega-million dollar contracts, sponsorship deals, fancy ballparks, and fame. And the only thing driving the players is a love of the game. They have big league dreams to play in baseball cathedrals such as Fenway Park or Wrigley Field, but are completely content on a dirt field with a couple of metal bleachers filled with all those who love them most. All the greats started out as rookies in bush league fields, and you never know when you may be lucky enough to witness the next Nolan Ryan or Willie Mays.
Baseball is a sport where heroes get remembered, but legends never die. It is America’s past time, full of tradition. It has endured the test of time, and has the best, most loyal fans. As Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over, til it’s over.”