And the Games Begin
After the interminable wait, the day has finally come. Baseball junkies everywhere can rejoice, as yesterday marked Day 1 of Spring Training games, with the Giants beating the Mariners in extra innings 8-7. At this point though, it’s important to stress the unimportance of games right now. Tim Lincecum gave up two runs in an inning of work! Aubrey Huff hit a home run! Madison Bumgarner’s velocity still isn’t above 90 mph! All these things, while interesting, mean very little in the larger scheme of the season.
Instead, what these games should be taken as is a much-needed baseball fix for those of us who simply miss watching baseball. After five long months away from the sport we know and love so much, games have finally begun, however meaningless they may be. We can sit back at noon on a weekday, and listen to harmless Spring Training games on the radio. Days like this are the ones that make it possible to suffer through the long regular season. It’s hard to deny the therapeutic effects of the dulcet tones of Jon Miller and Dave Flemming calling games in early March.
And that’s the way Spring Training needs to be approached: calm, cool, and collected. Come April, there will be six long months to pull your hair out and stress out on a daily basis. What March brings is the rare opportunity to watch baseball and have absolutely no concerns over who wins or loses. What other time of year can we see Tim Lincecum give up two runs in one inning and not run screaming through the streets in terror? Spring Training provides the chance to take the good, the bad, and the ugly all in stride, without needless worrying, yelling at the TV, and any number of other coping mechanisms we’ve developed to get us through a losing streak.
Being a truly emotionally-invested baseball fan is hard work. For over half the year, the die-hard Giants fan laments over every heart-wrenching loss, and rejoices over ever victory. Hardly sounds worth it, does it? Amidst the ups and the downs of fandom though, there’s a certain comfort in knowing that while you suffer, tens of thousands of other fans suffer with you. Being a fan is a communal experience that transcends boundaries. Wearing your Giants cap at Dodger Stadium can be softened by a nod from a fellow Giants fan two rows in front of you. Go to Seattle and you can talk with the displaced Giants fan who wishes they could make it back home for Opening Day. Go to New York and you find the guy who’s been a fan since the early 50’s who yearns for the days of the Giants playing East Coast baseball.
At this juncture in the season, these games are indeed meaningless. Therein lies the inherent beauty though. For a short month every year, we as fans can watch baseball, stress free, no strings attached. We can simply take in a ballgame on the radio, with no emotional investment whatsoever in the actual outcome. It’s baseball for the sake of baseball itself. I suggest you take it in while it lasts.
Photo used with express permission of Joseph Pun and AZ Giants.com