Peanuts and Crackerjacks

Baseball season has begun, and all is well in the land. I love baseball. I love everything about it. I love baseball movies, baseball jerseys, baseballs hats. I even play the soundtrack to The Natural when I do the dishes after dinner. It's magic. Don't ask me why, because I don't really know, but there is something about the game that is different- at least for me- than all the other sports we like to watch, play, and pay a small amount of people incredible amounts of money to play on the professional level.

I'm a Yankee fan, and a Giants fan. The Giants were my father's team, and his father's team. To the day he died, he could name the line up for the Giants for year I was born, the year my brother was born, and the year my sister was born. I wish he could have seen them win the World Series once before he died, but it was not in the cards. The Giants are a team of hope- of dreams not yet realized, and perhaps that's where their magic lies. I mean, look at the Red Sox. Something weird happened to them after they broke the curse of the Bambino. Some magic got stolen.
The Yankees were my mom's team. She loved them. One of my favorite baseball memories is calling my mom from Yankee Stadium, and just when she answered, Soriano hit a home run. Maybe it's magic thinking to believe that the Baseball Gods meant for me to call her just at that moment, so that for a brief second we could share the great excitement of thousands of people cheering one of their heros- but so what? I believe in magic and the Baseball Gods. It's like Zorba said, a man needs a little madness in his life.

Being a Yankee fan, I get a lot of ribbing from people who are not Yankee fans. Some of it is good natured fun, but some of it is kind of disturbing. Some people hate the Yankees in a way that just seems unhealthy for the soul. I mean like how the Tea party folks hate Obama. I mean, I hate the Dodgers because I'm a Giants fan- but that doesn't mean I curse them or wish them ill- I just want them to lose each and every game they have against the Black and Orange in the most humiliating fashion possible.
Maybe James Earl Jones character in Field of Dreams had it right when he said:

Ray, people will come, Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway, not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. "Of course, we won't mind if you have a look around," you'll say. "It's only twenty dollars per person." They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it; for it is money they have and peace they lack.

And they'll walk out to the bleachers, and sit in shirt-sleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game, and it'll be as if they'd dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick, they'll have to brush them away from their faces.

People will come, Ray.

The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again. Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.


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