Today is the Home Opener in Cleveland, Ohio. Although I cannot attend, I longingly dream about being in the crowd. Nothing compares to the smells and the sounds of a ballpark: steamed hotdogs, draft beer, the excitement and jubilee of a sold out crowd wanting nothing more than for the first win at home this season.
I find baseball to be romantic. The same joy and anticipation I feel in 2013 was felt by someone in 1908– any true fan understands the exhilaration of this scenario:
Bottom of the ninth, the Indians are down by one run. Runners are on first and second with two outs. The batter comes up to the plate, hits his cleats with his bat, and sizes up the pitcher. It is do-or-die, make a whack at it, or lose the game.
First pitch: Strike. Right over the plate. The batter is left looking.
The crowd tenses and leans a bit closer over the rails, feeling the tensions of the batter themselves.
Second pitch: Swing— and the ball goes out of play along the third base line.
The batter hits his cleats once more, readjusts his batting gloves, takes a deep breath, and steps up to the plate once again.
Third pitch: Low and away– a ball.
The air is thick, barely anyone in the park seems to be breathing.
The loud-speaker plays, “Da-da-da-Da-da-daaaa…!” The crowd yells, “Charge!” The crowd is on their feet clapping, urging the batter on.
The pitcher sets, shakes off the first two calls. He nods. The pitcher winds up, throws, and CRACK…. a line drive deep into left field. The ball drops off the wall. The runners round second and third. The first runner scores. The second runner scores. A deep double into left. The Indians win! The Indians win! The Indians win!
Nothing compares to that moment. No matter if you are on the field or in the stands, when that runner touches home plate, we are ALL a part of something. It is bigger than ourselves.
Of course, maybe you would like to be reminded what Terrance Mann said to Ray Kinsella in the movie Field of Dreams: