2014-02-17 / Columns

IT’S JUST ME

I couldn’t be more excited


klonie jordan klonie jordan I wish I was in Goodyear, Ariz., right now.

That’s where my beloved Cincinnati Reds are holding their spring training camp. Pitchers and catchers reported Friday, the full squad is due to report Wednesday and the first exhibition game will be played vs. the Cleveland Indians nine days from now.

Nine days from now.

I can’t wait.

I couldn’t be more excited if the Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol knocked on my front door and presented me with one of those giant novelty checks for $100 million. (It would be funny if this actually happened because the misses said my subscription to Chainsaws Illustrated was a waste of money.)

You couldn’t keep me from jumping up and down for joy about the coming baseball season if you knocked me out and, to borrow a phrase from Clark W. Griswold, “sewed my head to the carpet.”

Baseball.

This is it.

Finally.

The best game of all.

No more college football and the NFL season is finally over. Whew! Seems like it goes on forever. They’ve taken a 16-game schedule and turned it into a 6-month marathon. They start playing pre-season games in August and the Super Bowl is played in February. If the Super Bowl is really the “ultimate” NFL game, then how come they’re going to play it again next year?

And while I admit I am mildly interested in college football it’s just not the same as baseball. Doesn’t have that “magic” feel about it. And I have pretty much no interest at all in the NFL. Not after that “tuck rule” game cost my Raiders a trip to the AFC championship game. Swore off professional football at that point and I won’t be interested again unless something miraculous happens.

If I had to pick a second-favorite sport, it would be college basketball. At least there the national champion is actually decided on the court, not on somebody’s vote.

But back to baseball.

In Arizona there is the smell of freshly mowed grass, the rubbing of pine tar on bat handles and the poof of rosin bags against pitchers’ hands. And there is the single most enjoyable sound in all of sports … mitts popping as baseballs are tossed into them by winter-weary players returning from hibernation and loosening up their arms.

This is what sports is SUPPOSED to be like.

If you ever get the chance, be in Cincinnati on opening day. Baseball takes over the city.

It is 300,000 people joined together in one mindset about one thing, one ideal, one sport, one team. Businesses shut down, everyone from the smallest toddler to the most senior of fans is wearing some kind of Reds gear, there is a downtown parade (shortstop Dave Concepcion from the “Big Red Machine” era is this year’s grand marshal), a local barbershop continues a longstanding tradition of hanging a sign in the window that reads, “Gone to the funeral; Grandma died again,” and Fountain Square becomes, at least for a few hours, the center of the universe.

And while all this might not sound like such a big deal for those who don’t adhere to the notion that baseball is the great American pastime, it is a HUGE deal for me. This is the game I love. This is sports the way it’s supposed to be played, the way it’s supposed to be celebrated.

Call them the boys of summer. Call them whatever you want. Sure a great many of them are overpaid, but we will forgive them if they will but launch that series-winning homer in October or toss that no-hitter against our hated arch-rival. After all, it’s just money, right?

In Goodyear, Ariz., like most every other spring training site, the temperature is a little warmer than it has been around here lately. There is a widespread feeling of optimism. Everybody is tied for first place right now and the fans all believe that, “this is our year.”

Baseball is back.

God is in His heaven.

And all is right with the world.

Klonie Jordan (editor@gaffneyledger.com)
is executive editor of The Gaffney Ledger.

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