Baseball begins again today

by Bob Schwartz

MLB (Major League Baseball) spring training begins today.

I am a lifelong baseball fan. On a scale of 1 to 10 (the most fanatic) I would put myself over the years at 8. There are certainly those much crazier and more committed than me, but I’m up there.

In recent years, my fandom has moderated a bit, as other imperatives and interests nudged baseball more to the side.

Still, there is a post of mine from January 2020. It explains how, no matter what, I still buy the baseball magazines of winter in anticipation of the baseball soon to come in spring.

I could not see what was to come. It certainly wasn’t in those magazines. The pandemic baseball season of 2020 was about to begin. Like so much else, adjustments had to be made, to put it mildly, a shortened season was played, and against all odds, MLB managed to push and pull it all the way through to a World Series, with Dodgers as World Champions.

In the spirit of returning to a still elusive normality, MLB is planning on a season that more resembles the old days. Whether we as fans and citizens can come close to pulling that trick off as a public health matter is still tentative and to be determined. Maybe we are exiting a scary ride for good, maybe we are getting off the giant monster roller coaster to get on a less forbidding but still up-and-down smaller roller coaster.

Spring training is usually so exciting. My interest never really fired up during the 2020 “season”. It feels a little disloyal saying that, but I’m confused about which loyalty I’ve betrayed. My old self? The game? The teams and players I’ve followed and rooted for? The shelves filled with baseball books, along with that souvenir bat they give you when you visit the Louisville Slugger bat factory?

Spring training begins today. I may watch some games online. I may visit the MLB site regularly to check up on which teams and players are succeeding, some beyond expectations, and which are struggling.

But to be honest, that twinge of excitement in my belly is not there, at least not yet. It wasn’t there as 2020 unwound. Maybe that feeling is just gone for a while, the way that so much else has been gone for a while.

All things must pass. That’s George Harrison, the biblical Book of Ecclesiastes, the whole Bible, and the lesson of life itself. If baseball isn’t what it once was to me, or to America, things will still go on as they will. Just not the same, and, like it or not, maybe very very differently.