When the Game isn’t Postponed or Boring: A Baseball Carol

Spring 2018: It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times.
You may think the above line is a mistake, but it’s not. It’s actually a sophisticated play on words, a reference to one of literature’s most famous opening lines that only a well-read, intellectual type like myself could make. (The orignial line is “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” and, at the risk of sounding like a know-it-all, I believe the novel itself was one from the Twilight series.)
What’s been “the worst”? The weather. Rain. Snow. Sleet. Unrelenting winds. I even heard about a tornado that touched down earlier this spring in Kansas with cows, a farmhouse and several hosts from The View all caught up in its furious funnel.
And my inner baseball fan, that looked forward to spring and starting day 2018 with hope and excitement, has turned into an Ebeneezer Scrooge (I believe he’s a character from Game of Thrones.)
Bah, humbug! I’d think to myself every time I looked at the Cubs schedule and saw the letters PPD, indicating YET ANOTHER game had been postponed due to rain or snow. Why do they even start baseball in April if they’re just going to cancel every other game? Are they just big teases?
It was with this heart full of resentment that I reluctantly turned on the Cubs @ Rockies. My hard heart was softened ever so slightly by the fact that I took my wife and daughter to Coors Field for a game last year, and it’s always neat to see a stadium you’ve recently visited on TV. At least I think so, but I’m just a simple man. A well-read, intellectual, sophisticated simple man.
Since baseball can be a somewhat uneventful affair, when I saw the Rockies were up 3-2 over the Cubs in the top of the second, my inner Scrooge fan reared its ugly head: Great, I’ve already missed the action.
Boy was I glad to be wrong. The Cubs would go on to score another 14 runs by the time it was all said and done. Javy Baez, who’s been playing so well you don’t even notice his roadkill haircut (this seems to be a theme for the Cubs), demonstrated why so many commentators say he’s one of the most fun players to watch in the league.
Baez slid into third and was called out. Adamant that he was safe, Baez looked to his team’s dugout and made an exaggerated motion of putting headphones on his ears, his way of saying “Challenge it”. Joe Maddon did, and the call was quickly overturned.
Then, after Bryan Shaw threw some chin music, Baez swung out of his shoes on the very next pitch, hitting a foul ball but letting Shaw know he wasn’t intimidated. A couple pitches later, Baez got his fourth hit of the night.
Later that inning, Baez got caught in a pickle, but he strung it out long enough to let Anthony Rizzo reach second base. It was another example of Baez’s unusually heightened awareness of what’s going on in the field. (Maybe his crazy hairdo isn’t roadkill, but is hiding a rodent. My theory is, like in Ratatouille, there’s a mouse in Baez’s crazy hairdo, pulling his hair to let him know what everyone in the field is doing at all times.)
Kyle Schwarber came up to the plate next and blistered a ball over the 415-foot center field fence. “Into the conifers!” Bob Brenly called, as the ball sailed into the pine trees at Coors Field.
The Cubs weren’t done yet, but it was getting late in my time zone, and I’d seen enough. My heart was full. It made all the delays and cancellations worth it; I’d seen more baseball action in an hour than you typically get over two or three games.
The baseball spirits had done their work. I was a new fan. To quote the newly transformed Scrooge, I was “as light as a feather, as happy as an angel, as merry as a schoolboy.”
Oh sure, the Cubs lost the next night, but it didn’t matter. The game had enough positive moments for me to ruminate on for a couple of days. And more importantly, it seems as if (it’s hard to type now because I’m crossing my fingers), the terrible, unseasonable weather is on its way out.
Win or lose, if you’re a baseball fan, at least now your team is playing now. Unless your team has been playing like the Reds. Then you might still be praying for snow.
This column was originally published in the Republic-Monitor on April 25, 2018.
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