By Sean Christopher
February 15, 2017, Ottawa
Like a sunrise over a lush landscape of green grass, virgin plants and an abundant array of hues amongst the low lying foliage, the dawn of a new day begins in the lives of both baseball players, teams and their fans.
With the aroma of fresh cut Santa Ana or Bull`s Eye Bermuda grass permeating the air and the scent of pine tar and resin emanating from a nearby dugout, followed by an occasional whiff of barbecued chicken, ribs or stadium dogs from a nearby grill, February symbolizes the birth of a new season of hard ball down in Florida. Spring training represents the opening of a new act, reminding us all that the path to sunnier days is being paved; a path that will allow us to bask in the glory that a page has been turned to reveal another vibrant chapter awaiting in the life of our baseball idols, and our own personal lives.
The boys of summer are back, igniting excitement among fans of a game often dubbed America’s past time but whose influence has spread to other countries where baseball is just as important as it is in the United States. It matters not where you live. Fans and players in Canada, America, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Colombia and other great regions of the world all speak the same language of baseball, grip similar Rawlings tattooed balls, and don the same Nike spikes. For some, baseball is a staple of life, a stepping stone to something bigger. Seeing the appearance of our favourites ball players at spring training acts like a gentle elbow nudge against our ribs from a friend indicating that soon our days will be filled with lots of popups, fly outs, ground balls, home runs, highlights, replays, trick plays, chilli dogs, buttered popcorn, craft beer, decibel cracking cheers and jeers, gamesmanship, heated rivalries and a host of other juicy remnants that satisfy our soul’s yearning for all things baseball while enjoying the great outdoors.
For all fans of the game there is something spiritual about the start of spring training that sparks a sense of revitalization in all of us and triggers an emotion that acts like a connecting rod between the excitement of a fresh start to a new season and our penchant for frolicking incessantly in all things related to summer, if not just baseball. But in baseball, spring training is the first step out of the gates of winter where the process for replenishing the soul begins, the seeds of aspiration planted that will hopefully grow into the highest of achievements, and the body reinvigorated with the application of the sun`s natural veneer that makes us all shine, hoping that soon warmer days are ahead; days festooned with the crystal blue colour of the sky, its hues of blue changing throughout an afternoon where scattered puffy clouds serve as a natural artwork that emboldens our experience at a ballpark that stops nothing short of a bucket list event in some cases. Seeing the players take the diamond field for the first time in the Florida sun yields to a uplifting feeling we always get similar to that when the first warm breezes of spring hits our face.
Like the holiest of sacred sites, people huddle in masses to take a pilgrimage to ball parks to witness their architecture, openness, and site lines, bowing respectfully to the symbolism of their presence and respecting the humble nature of their existence. To some, the ball players are like gods. Just ask any fan. For such people, the start of their pilgrimage has begun culminating in what they hope is acquisition of the most prized – some would say sacred – of sporting events: the world title.
Whether you root for the Yankees, Angels, Blue Jays, Tigers or any other of the teams making up the big leagues, you can be assured that another exciting season is among all of us who share a passion for baseball, a season that will bring fresh milestones, new records, slumps, dumps and clumps of moments peppered with excitement, anger, frustration, exhilaration, hope and perhaps fear.
I hope the sunshine that rises over your team’s horizon warms up expectations, heats up the pennant race and sets with a post-season berth, perhaps with a World Series title in tow.
Welcome to the 2017 major league season. Grab your glove, bat and prized baseball jersey. Clean off those cleats. A new season is upon us.
It`s time to play ball.
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World Series and Major League are a registered trademarks of Major League Baseball®. Yankees, Angels, Blue Jays and Tigers are the official nicknames of Major League franchises.