On Baseball: America’s favorite pastime is back | VailDaily.com

On Baseball: America’s favorite pastime is back

Ian Smith
Vail, CO Colorado

It’s the grand slam, the bloop single and the suicide squeeze.

It’s Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field and Enron Field. It’s Ruth, Mays and Canseco.

It’s baseball.

America’s favorite pastime is back, and I couldn’t be happier.

“Opening Day” is a special time of year. Hope springs eternal. Every big league team thinks it has a chance to win it all ” even the Cubs. “Wait ’till next year!” is right now.

The game encompasses so many things I love about sports.

It’s all about the nicknames. Mr. Cub, Mr. October, Stan the Man, the Say Hey Kid, The Babe. Even a casual baseball fan has no problem naming any of those all-time greats.

Baseball and superstitions go hand in hand. The Red Sox finally sent the “Curse of the Bambino” to its grave (twice). Now, the Cubs are hoping to erase the memory of the Billy Goat and Bartman.

Hey, whatever works. Heck, my twin brother drank a V8 during every Cubs game one season because he thought it was good luck. It’s like putting on the rally cap or watching the rally monkey. Baseball players and fans do whatever it takes to win and make a fool of themselves at the same time.

Baseball is ingrained in the history of America. Like James Earl Jones said in the “Field of Dreams”: “The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball … It reminds us of all that once was good and could be again.”

Terrence Mann (Jones) had it right. Is anyone ever happier than when they hit their first home run? Maybe, but not very often.

Baseball doesn’t need a clock to build drama. The game is the same length now as it was in 1900. Maybe that’s the thing I love most about the sport, it doesn’t change.

The players do. The teams do. But the game doesn’t.

Like a friend said yesterday, “I have to get used to baseball. The pace is so slow.” It’s boring to some, but that’s what makes the game so enjoyable for me.

You can fire up the grill, grab a cold beverage and discuss the merits of the DH without ever missing an at-bat.

The deliberate pace allows fans to discover what really matters in life. Dads (or in some lucky cases, moms) can connect with their sons or daughters. Friends can act out their favorite “Major League” quotes. A guy can propose to a lucky girlfriend.

On Opening Day 2004, me and a group of friends went to St. Louis to watch the Cardinals. We decided to go at about midnight before a noon game because we were in college and thought it would be a good time.

It was a GREAT time.

I don’t remember the score, but I remember watching President Bush throw out the first pitch. I don’t remember who won, but I remember drinking an $8 beer with my friends.

We never talked about anything important, but we built a bond that’s lasted until today. Over the next few years, we went to at least one game in St. Louis or Chicago every season, including Game 7 of the NLCS at Busch Stadium in 2006.

We couldn’t make our annual trip this year because we are spread all over the country. Instead, I settled for telling each one how much their favorite team stunk.

That’s what makes baseball great. No matter where you live, or how long it has been since you talked to a friend, there is always baseball.

There are always rivalries and October. The Yankee Clipper and the grand slam. Low and away, or in your ear.

It’s America’s game, and I love it.

Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at 970-748-2935 or ismith@vaildaily.com.

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