It's a weird feeling to be 2000 miles away from the team you really care about, and be in a land where the local team is not generating a lot of excitement...just sort of minimizes the whole opening day mystique. Let's put it this way, when I woke up this morning and realized it's the Mariners home opener, the only thought that went through my head? "That means traffic is going to suck." Which, from a quick sample of the general population here isn't a very strange reaction.
When 2/5 of your starting rotation contains the names "Miguel Batista" and "Jeff Weaver"...let's just say lines like this one don't seem some strange:
"The Mariners....Mariners...wait, Seattle still has a pro team?"
Yep, it's hard to get up for baseball when that's the attitude around you. But it's opening day, and for every team, hope springs eternal. For most though, opening day will be the high point of the season...their only sellout...the only time the whole crowd was into it...the only game where a celebrity people actually know will throw out the first pitch...believe me, I've been through it enough over the years to understand that for most, Opening day is just the beginning of the end.
How's that for a cheery Monday morning sentiment?
It doesn't help that spring doesn't seem to want to come to the Northwest. We had our softball opening day yesterday, and were blessed with temperatures in the low 40s. I had nasty flashbacks to playing High school baseball in sub-freezing temperatures back home in Chicago. Trust me, when the mercury reads 30 degrees...the last place you want your hands to be is on a frozen aluminum bat, with an 80 mph fastball coming at it...
Spring has showed it's self a couple times...but each time it laughs and runs away...leaving behind a wet, cold rainy mess. The mental thaw out hasn't happened because of that...the body is still balled up to ward off the winter cold. And the brain is not willing to embrace spring and all the beauty that it promises...including a certain game played with a ball...until it knows that winter is gone for good.
But the hope is still there...it is opening day...the game start meaning things now. And when that first White Sox broadcast comes over the internet and into my ears, well, all will be right with the world, and spring, no matter how far away will embrace me for the first time this year. Hearing baseball on the radio always warms the soul, bringing back memories of summers past. Baseball was a game built for the radio...and there in lies its problem...
Baseball enjoyed its greatest popularity when radio was the dominant mass media instrument. Baseball on the radio is perfect...the voices poetic...and the action perfectly paced. Baseball is a game where all focus is on the ball, sure there is other movement, but to understand a play, or a game, one only needs to focus on the ball. It's pitched, it's hit and it's caught. Simple as that. And thanks to the pace of the game, there is plenty of time for a skilled broadcaster to build up the drama of a game, to embellish the mental visual for the listener. In the minds eye, there is no greener grass, bluer sky or more majestic stadium than that seen through the radio.
But the radio is a forgotten thing now. Television is the big kid on the block, and the internet is always lurking to be the next big player. A game like Football plays perfectly on TV. You can see the pulling guard hitting the hole in front of the ball carrier....or the MLB flying in from outside the play to layout a WR...you can wince in anticipation of a big hit...cheer wildly when you realize that the fullback just leveled the only guy who had a shot at the ball...it's all there on the screen. All that is missed on the radio...and no radio broadcaster can keep up with the speed of a football play to relay even 25% of it. And so football rules the TV screen. The perfect sport for the medium.
As mentioned though, the internet is growing as a media presence. What sport will take this new medium and become the big boy on the block? Can baseball reclaim its mantle as the America's game by embracing the internet? Or will football find a way to integrate seamlessly? Or will someone else rise up from the asses and take over the American consciousness?
Couldn't tell you...too busy trying to find the White Sox internet broadcast....