And just like that, here we are again. I’ve written about this many times here, but I still haven’t gotten used to how quickly the season rolls back around again. When I was a boy, the stretch of time between October and April was interminable. I was interested in football and basketball, but really just as placeholders for my true love. Long before the James Earl Jones soliloquy, baseball was marking the time for me.
In December and January I would catch an article in the sports section about a trade or a free agent signing, in March I’d begin to see baseball cards and preview magazines in the grocery store, and then finally, at long last, there would be baseball. Back then it would likely be weeks before I might get to see a Yankee game on television out here in California, but just knowing that my heroes were back playing in the Bronx was enough. The boxscores that popped up in the morning paper were the daffodils in my flower bed; signs of spring signaling the end of a long, cold winter.
Things are different now. After fifty-three trips around the sun, each orbit seems shorter than the last, so last season’s exploits are still fresh. Aaron Judge’s 62nd home run seems to have just landed, and the team’s eventual (and disturbingly annual) demise at the hands of the Houston Astros couldn’t have been more than a month ago.
But even if I haven’t been counting the days through a long off-season, today is no less exciting, because today we have baseball. Today we’ll see Aaron Judge take his first swings, and wouldn’t it be great if he picked up where he left off and launched a ball deep into the left field stands? We’ll watch as Gerrit Cole takes the mound, and wouldn’t it be comforting if he threw seven shutout innings and struck out twelve?
Oh, and we’ve got the added fun of watching a young kid at shortstop, the team’s top prospect and the jewel of the organization. As hard as it is for me to believe, it was almost three decades ago that Derek Jeter opened his rookie season as the starting shortstop in the spring of 1996, and today we’ll get to watch Anthony Volpe. It isn’t fair to compare him to one of the greatest ever to wear the pinstripes, but this is what we do. This is the way.
We can’t possibly know what the next six months will bring, but today brings baseball, and that’s always enough.