It's the dead time of the year. Yes, the leaves are changing color. Bears are hibernating and sparrows are migrating. But the deadness of fall and winter has to do with forces far more fundamental than Mother Nature's cornucopia.
It is the time of year when God snoozes. Football (yawn). Basketball (snooze). Hockey (zzzzzz). There isn't even a good golf tournament to quicken the pulse.
But most of all, there are no four-seamers. No frozen ropes. No thawk. No thumpf. No dirt on the plate and no chalk on the uni. You can't smell the grass, and you can't yell at blue.
The year is officially dormant. And it won't begin again until pitchers and catcher report.
Today I began my winter project. In my substantial collection of books are a number of titles that purport to tell us something about God's Game. Most of these I've owned for years, or longer, and have never read. My project, beginning today, is take a baseball book with me to the gym as my shield against the monotony of the spinmaster. The goal — to get through three or four of them before Bruce Bochy fills out his first line-up card of 2004.
My salve against the cruelest of months will be words on paper — a ballpark of the imagination. Today, I started with Bernard Malamud's The Natural.