Mentz’s Minute: Be happy, baseball season is back

March 29th, 2012

In the fall of 2011, I wrote a column welcoming back the NFL from the very publicized NFL lockout. A few months later, I wrote a column welcoming back the NBA from another lengthy, unnecessary lockout. Now, as we approach the month of April, let me be the first to say it: Welcome back, baseball season.

Unlike the NFL and NBA, Major League Baseball did not have a dreaded lockout in the months leading up to the start of the regular season. Instead, all 30 MLB teams have been competing in spring training, taking the tarp off the infield and kicking the dirt off those same baseball cleats.

As much as I may love the NBA and NFL, the MLB, and baseball specifically, holds a special place in my heart. To me, baseball is like water. For those six months of the calendar year when I can’t find baseball on my television screen or at the local field, I’m parched and dying of thirst. Former Cardinals second baseman Rogers Hornsby said it best: “People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do.  I stare out the window and wait for spring.” That’s exactly how I feel for much of the time when baseball season is out of commission.

As the warm weather starts to appear and the sun starts to show its face, you can smell baseball season in the air. Baseball is, has and always will be America’s pastime. It’s a sport that defines much of our culture and goes hand-in-hand with the Fourth of July and apple pie in terms of American traditions.

Each spring, when baseball season returns, it feels like all is finally right with the world again. Baseball, to me, is a drug, and I just can’t seem to get enough of it. When I first started playing baseball at the age of five, it seemed like a foreign language to me. Ironically, 15 years later, I’m still actively playing that same sport that once seemed so foreign – instead this time it’s, in many ways, all I know.

Whether it’s the MLB, college, high school or watching the local youth compete in sandlot games on Saturday mornings, I’m just glad to be able to say I can finally watch live baseball again.

The connection between the sport of baseball and the seasoned baseball diehard is simple, yet complex. Former MLB pitcher Jim Bouton hit the nail on the head when he said, “You see, you spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball, and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time.”

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