Maybe it is because I have lived in Florida for the last 25 years and have been a fan of baseball all my life going all the way back to before I can remember. I have the pictures to prove it! Or maybe it is because I have become a fan of Women's Collegiate Softball over the last decade. But whatever the reason, this is my favorite time of the year. It is the start of the spring schedule!
College softball is just getting underway. College Baseball starts this weekend. And pitcher and catchers report for spring training this week in most places. The balls will be flying all over the yards this weekend. The bats will be swinging and sometimes even connecting. The pitchers will be working on getting into shape or getting batters out in the college ranks. The grass will be cut, sprayed and watered. The lines will be drawn and a new season will unfold before us.
It is also my favorite time because all things are new again. Every fan base believes it may be their year to win it all. Every player thinks this will be the year they win it all or have the best year of their career or both. Managers are hoping they can find the lightning in a bottle to put the pieces in the right place to finally make it to the top or stay there from last year. Everyone has a chance to win it all today.
OK, so we know that everyone doesn't have an equal chance, but at least there is not proof that your team is not good enough to win anything yet! So we have this kind of eternal optimism. Hey even Cub fans think they will win it one year and just think the Red Sox actually did a few years ago! All the college teams are even in baseball at the moment and all of them dream of playing in Omaha in June. For all but 8 teams that dream will not be a reality in three months, but for this day the dream is still alive. College softball players are working to fix the mistakes or capitalize on the good things that showed up in the first weekend of play for many squads in the south and west. All of them dreaming of playing in Oklahoma City with a chance to win the title. That is what is great about this time of year, everyone is filled with hope.
Reality tells us that in a few weeks we will know that our team didn't do enough in the off-season. Didn't make the right trades. Didn't fire the manager or the front office personnel. Didn't do whatever we think would have made the difference. But none of that matters at the moment. It is time to enjoy the game for the pure pleasure of hope it brings.
For those of us who have played the game, we remember what this day was like. The rush of adrenaline even if it was only practice. The feeling of the grass beneath the cleats. The smell of freshly cut infield or outfield areas. The cool air in your face as you run. The warmth of the sun on your back as you take ground balls to hone your skills. We remember the hugs as you greet teammates you haven't seen in a while. You long for that first game and the chance to compete. And while those days are past for most of us, the memories remain, sometimes even sweeter than the actual events.
That's what makes this time of year so special. The memories of the first time you ran onto a field or ran into the stadium to watch your team play. I'll bet you can picture it right now in your mind, can't you. You can remember the smells and the tastes of the day. That's why baseball is the great American past time. It connects us to our childhood and begs us to leave it as a legacy to our children and grandchildren. Now with the advancement of college softball and professional fast pitch leagues we have the chance to pass that on in a new way to our daughters as well. It's time to hear those words that make our hearts flutter!
Let's play ball!