Author’s note: The Baron’s not around anymore so I’m gonna pay a little homage. Please forgive me for stepping on the toes of greatness here.
It is April in St. Louis and there is baseball to be played.
In roughly 24 hours the baseball season will begin. The Cardinals will play the Pittsburgh Pirates, and though they are not a team of exceptional or even average baseball players, they are a real team and there will be a real game of baseball. It will be, in some small way, the best moment any of us will have for a while. The modern world tends to be intrusive and the current times have been rough but tomorrow there will be red jackets and Clydesdales and traditions galore. Tomorrow we open the red treasure box and hear the dulcet sounds of baseball that will follow us for at least 162 games.
The event of Opening Day is always special, but the sport of baseball doesn't lend itself to special occasions quite the same way some of the others do; we all know there will be 161 more just like it (at least), and only the most devoted fanatic could ever worry too much about one game. That's not to say we won't; it just means we're all devoted fanatics who gather on an internet site 365 days a year to discuss a game. And that's actually pretty cool.
As Baron’s said before, baseball is different from most of the other sports; it’s more of a companion and a friend than an event. A baseball game holds the same expected pleasure as meeting your oldest friend after work. It's not unusual, and it probably won't be life-changing. And yet it's that very quality, that expectedness and smallness, that works its way into our lives and makes this game a part of us. Each game is a little operation on our souls, a little change that’s too slight to feel but adds up and keeps adding up until it fills your heart.
The small moments are always best; it's why baseball is the sport most like life. A great marriage isn't a beautiful, elegant, and lavish wedding; a great marriage is heating up a plate of leftovers on a weekday night and enjoying it because you have someone special to share it with. For six months of the year there's always a baseball game on the radio or on the television. Good times and bad. You can always find a game.
It's not a stretch to say that life has been a mess lately. We’re coming out the backend of a pandemic only to look right down the barrel of World War Three. Humanity keeps stepping on its own toes, refusing to cooperate with the creation of a common good. And in such times it's good to have an old friend with you on the daily—she can’t fix the problems we face on a global scale or even in our daily lives but she can be there for us. And that alone makes us all feel better.
I don’t know what happened to A.E. Schafer. I know I miss him and I’m sure we all do. And I hope he surprises me and comes back to welcome us to another season in the way only he can. But if he does not, please allow me to borrow from him and say unto you all:
Hello again, Baseball. Hello again, Old Friend. I missed you.