With the 2011 Major League Baseball Opening Day literally days away, I thought I'd take a moment to let everyone have a look within my psyche to let them know exactly what it is that opening day of baseball season has historically meant for me.
While it's clear to a regular reader that my number one sports love is hockey, there was once another. Yes, my nuptials may have come with a curved stick and a rubber puck but my first love started out with a mere aluminum bat and soft leather ball back in Mechanicsburg, PA.
I was lucky enough to have my birthday always fall around the opening day of Little League so my birthday was always a promised awesome time. For several glorious years I took the field and when not playing with grass or acting like my glove was a mask I'd do my best to shag fly balls or ground balls (I played every position but pitcher and first).
My first likely concussion came at the hands of baseball when a hard hit grounder struck a stone and caught me in the forehead as I was playing third base. I had the seams of the ball imprinted in my skin for at least a day. My first broken bone came during baseball, a line drive caught me unsuspectingly in the nose. Perhaps the hot corner was not the best fit for me?
Sadly the cheer and joy of Opening Day faded as the years went on. My reason for loving baseball, my Pittsburgh Pirates, became a punch line. Though they're making strides, they remain one to this day. My move to South Carolina and the sudden advent of the curve ball meant less playing time, meant more bench, meant less fun. The point of the game was ruined for me. I was done.
While politics and steroids have ruined the game for the masses, salaries and ticket prices sky rocketing, it's still comforting to drive by a baseball field this time of year and see what made me fall in love with the sport: twenty or so kids on a field, covering their faces, sitting down, taking hacks.
Most of them have dreams of being in the big leagues one day. For all but a tenth of a percent of them, that dream will fail. Like me, however, the dream can alter and become something else. They won't feel like a failure because they weren't able to connect with a curve. Instead they'll feel like a success because of where they first realized they could be something other than in the moment.
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