Newmann: The joys of spring
We seem to be living in a time of continual (if not instant) flux. And many critics and pundits have speculated on what’s causing various aspects of the current weirdness (some of the reasons seem pretty obvious). But let’s let them have their say and, for the moment, move into another — and more pleasant — realm: sports.
With the advent of spring, we’re spoiled for choice with the variety of sports on tap.
Skiing is still very much in the picture for many folks and, happily, in the just-concluded Alpine World Cup, Edwards local Mikaela Shiffrin took home the overall title. But there’s still lots of time this spring to strut one’s own stuff on the hill.
March Madness (for both men and women) is in full swing on the basketball court, and fans — and online betting sources — are rejoicing. Always fun and exciting to watch the college kids battling it out in the knockout competitions.
On the other end of the basketball spectrum, the NBA continues to bounce along and, given the length of the season, will virtually roll into mid-April. The real on-court drama starts when the playoffs begin. The background drama goes on all season.
Like the NBA, the National Hockey League also skates into spring — and beyond. Strange that the one sport that needs ice actually plays into June. But hockey, once the domain of Canada and the northern states, now has Tampa Bay as the defending Stanley Cup champions. Go figure.
Meanwhile, the NCAA Frozen Four men’s hockey tourney has kicked into gear and goes into early April. The women’s inaugural championships concluded last week with Ohio State taking out the title.
On a more spring-like note, baseball is back in full swing after the labor dispute between the players and the owners finally thawed. So the boys of summer are once again training on the diamonds down south and are due to head up to their respective northern realms for the March 31 opening day.
Baseball brings with it a certain type of traditional normalcy. The infield diamonds are exact and precise and the outfield grasses are lush and manicured. They are, in many ways, fields of dreams.
The players have incredible skill levels that are also mixed with an ease of movement. Hitting a small white ball thrown at 100 mph takes fantastic coordination and reflex. Throwing that same ball at 100 mph into a very small and precise window takes incredible skill. And yet neither the hitting nor the pitching appear, at first glance, to be overly strenuous. There is a subtle rhythm and flow between pitcher and hitter that almost makes their extraordinary talents seem commonplace.
Likewise, infielders glide across the diamond to make plays and outfielders laconically camp under fly balls. And when the odd ball goes beyond the outfield and over the wall, we can follow the long graceful arc — until the ball disappears into the stands.
The game, once hailed as “The National Pastime” has been somewhat supplanted by more active, vigorous and — in some ways — more violent sports. But the calm and consistent pace of a baseball game, coupled with the beautiful environs of the baseball field, is good for the head — and the soul.
And is almost the perfect antidote for the frenetic nature of the current times.
Tom Newmann splits his time between Edwards and Queenstown, New Zealand. He has been going winter-to-winter since 1986. He was also a journalist in Missoula, Montana, at the Missoulian for quite a few years. Email him at email@example.com.