February 02, 2003

Game 1 of '03 Baseball Season

With spring training for the Major League teams starting in two weeks -- we're getting itchy for baseball season to start. It seems hard to imagine that we're ready for the first pitch while the heart-of-winter has a grip on most of the country. Here in southern California, it is a beautiful mid-eighty degree day, so we decided to attend the season-opener of Pomona-Pitzer vs. The Masters College.

Yes, we know it's not the freeway series between the Angels and Dodgers -- that's not for weeks. Yes, we could have driven to see two college powerhouse teams, Cal. State Fullerton vs. Stanford, but, on this beautiful Saturday, something about walking a few blocks to the game seems like a perfect way to start our '03 baseball season.

I don't know if we can classify ourselves as baseball-junkies, but there is something peaceful about sitting under a sunny, blue sky on a Saturday afternoon in February and watching 9 innings of baseball. Granted, it's not a major league game, but it is baseball.

In a week that was filled with a State of the Union address, an economy that seems to be languishing even more, the threat of war even more possible and the tragic news of the loss of the Columbia crew -- taking a break from it all and enjoying a game seems like a great afternoon.

Sounds like a spiritual thing?

Well, maybe it is, after all a baseball has 108 seams and a set of Dharma beads are also 108. In Hindu tradition, the number 108 is sacred. It is the number that results from multiplying the twelve astrological signs by the nine planets (the entire known universe when this formula was conceived a millennia ago) -- but this discussion is best left for another time.

Let's just say that in a great many people's universe that we know -- baseball is a constant and spiritual mate.

Getting back to the game, it has been a constant in our history. Sure we always have some controversy, but let's forget about those things. Let's leave the BESR (Bat Exit Speed Ratio) and the wood vs. aluminum for another time and remember, it is the game.

It is sitting in the stands, a score book in one hand and a hot dog in the other. It is the sun on your face and hearing the connection of ball to bat that draws us. It is the game that we all love so very much.

We will go out on a limb here and say that we are a tad biased -- the real baseball of today may well be played on the thousands of high school fields across America. There is something about money, scholarships and the major leagues that somehow affect the game.

On the high school field, it is a coach who is usually a teacher coaching because he loves the game. Before we get e-mail from the college coaches -- these high school coaches sacrifice their time and undoubtedly some of their salaries to keep their fields beautiful and coach a game they love. No big salaries here, just their love of a game.

Here too, are players who play because they love the game. For some, this will be the end of their baseball careers. For others, they will play some college ball and for the majority -- that's it. They will join the rest of us as fans of the game, their field of dreams a memory from the past.

As Baseball America's Editor Allan Simpson points out in the February 3-16, 2003 issue of Baseball America, out of the 940 major leaguers who signed out of American schools in 2002, 507 (53.9 percent) from four-year schools and 285 (30.3 percent) from high school. For these select few, their field of dreams will be the opportunity to play a game for a living. To have a chance to stand on the dug-out steps on a beautiful summer's day and gaze out onto a major league field. But, that's a very select few.

So, on the first day of February, we started our '03 baseball season. Game 7 of the World Series is still fresh in our minds. Before we know it, we will be in Chicago for the All-Star game -- the mid-point of the '03 season. But, for now, it is the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens vs. The Masters College, final score -- Pomona-Pitzer 12, The Masters College 10.

Remember, a great baseball game is just a few blocks away at your local high school. Who knows, you may see a perfect game. If you don't, you will at least get to share a few innings with some young dedicated players who love the game!

On a morning that started with the images of Columbia breaking apart over Texas, beyond those images, it seems we need to remember that the seven souls aboard Columbia were living out the their ultimate dream to travel in space. The event is tragic and our prayers go out to their families. For the seven aboard Columbia, in the words of astronaut Ilan Ramon in an e-mail from space "I'd like to float forever." I would add, may they all float forever in their field of dreams.

::

Reference Link: In a rare non-baseball posting, ESPN's Babeball Tonight lead researcher, David Pinto comments on his friend, astronaunt Dave Brown.

01:37 PM in Baseball '03 | Permalink | Comments (0)