Keidel: Play Ball
By Jason Keidel
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As the white lid of winter slowly recedes from our city, a baseball in the Bronx will be thrown in earnest. And whether you love or loathe the Yankees, only the most calcified hater isn’t happy to have baseball back in our backyard.
New Yorkers, pummeled by a biblical winter, are frothing for the first pitch, and for an umpire to holler, “Play ball!” The apocalyptic news of blizzards and Ponzi schemes to the more mundane moments of Final Four teams laden with NYC players we can’t keep in our colleges, can be drowned out by a piece of maple meeting a rawhide ball, and the echoes of Metallica and a two-strike ovation for the final No. 42.
For a moment, you can toss the sporting trash into the dustbins of memory, from Madoff to ‘Melo to Desean Jackson and Vernon Gohlston. Everyone is 0-0, tied for first in an elongated season where a three-game slide isn’t a landslide. The San Francisco Giants, perhaps the most offensively offensive team of my lifetime, won the World Series – giving the most jaded or forlorn fan hope.
Even on the field, filled with the static of myriad sidebars – from Jeter’s age and average to Dandy Andy’s retirement to losing the Cliff Lee sweepstakes to Jason Bay and Beltran and Johan’s health – miracles occur in the imagination. It is our prerogative as a baseball town desperate for a baseball crown.
Even if Derek Jeter swings through snowflakes, it’s baseball. And while our pastime has past its time as the only game in primetime, usurped by the NFL, it carries a generational grace that no sport can touch.
This is the lone day all New Yorkers can agree, a detente from turf wars. Baseball’s inherent beauty beyond the game itself is its stamp on spring, a symbolic, seismic jolt in weather and attitude. Baseball is back, gang, as pure, clean, and colorful as the asters popping pink in Central Park.
For today, at least, Jon Niese and Ivan Nova are aces, Cy Young contenders from the jump, while we embrace the orgiastic notion of wire-to-wire leads and a Subway Series.
The talons of this historically bad winter have yet to ease their grip. But, for one day, it doesn’t matter. Steroids are less prevalent, head and hat sizes are normal, and fewer bats are held by backne-infected behemoths. Pitching matters again, and so does the sport.
Happy Opening Day, to all.
Feel free to email me: Jakster1@mac.com
Your first pitch predictions? Let Keidel know in the comments below…