2011 MLB Spring Training

MLB: Before Sabermatrics and Speculation, There Was the Fan and the Game

GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 04:  A fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers plays catch in the outfield before the spring training game against the San Francisco Giants at Camelback Ranch on March 4, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Kris PollinaCorrespondent IMarch 17, 2011

I live for this, for MLB,

for every inning of sanctity.

For every pitch, for each at-bat,

revering the talent beyond the stats.

I live for the scent of old leather mitts,

I live for the cadence of the walk-off base hit.

I live for the moment when winter gives way,

to the unmatched thrill of Opening Day.

 

I live for this, the stadium stands,

fusing the hope of breathless fans.

The ballpark kinships, the impartial accord,

strangers embracing when their team just scored.

The knowing nod that we give each other,

as we walk city streets of cap-clad brothers.

I live for the rivalries of rabid foes,

who share a camaraderie only a true fan knows.

 

I live for this, all 30 teams,

and countless ambitions of childhood dreams.

The little league bats that grew into lumber,

the jerseys they wore of their role model's number.

They're heroes, they're goats, they make grown men cry,

they can drive us to madness with one dropped pop fly.

Two leagues, six divisions, one World Series mission,

I live for their tribute to raw competition.

 

I live for this, the immutable ties,

baseball endures past the scandals and lies.

Through gambling, through cheaters, through injecting the juice,

through pine tar, through payrolls, through more drug abuse.

While some became cynics, and some became jaded,

the reality is that the game never faded.

Its imperfect beauty is a gauge of the times,

and the game still goes on, outlasting its crimes.

 

I live for this, the pure liberation,

the relief baseball gives us from life's tribulations.

Its soothing erasure of pressures we face,

the unerring stress that lines the rat race.

When I'm worn down and beaten, I can put it behind me,

at the sight of a rookie who runs a hard 90.

For there's nothing more freeing to make things alright,

than taking off work for a day-game delight.

 

I live for this, the history,

no single game is lost on me.

Each anthem rendition will give me chills,

a team takes the field, and time stands still.

The Cooperstown halls and the ghosts of the greats,

who once were just men who reigned at the plate.

And years from now, I'll be able to say,

of some inductee: "I once saw him play…"

 

I live for this, for MLB,

the rapture and sublimity.

The tension that drenches a full count with two out,

the ninth inning rally that dismantles a rout.

The low-scoring game, the battle of aces,

the 12th-inning jam, the loading of bases.

I live for the rush when baseball arrives,

the heart-stopping moments we feel most alive.

The highs, the lows, I'll take it all,

I live for the sound of the words, "Play ball!"

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