Though I am not a Red Sox fan by any means, I am a baseball fan and all baseball fans in their heart of hearts had to be happy for the Sox fans last October, who having waited unquietly and impatiently for a winner for 86 long years, finally got one in the most dramatic and convincing fashion.
Beyond that bit of magnanimity, on the selfish side of the ledger, fans of longshot teams across the nation can allow their minds to wander more freely and their dreams rise more stratospherically having seen a team not just unlucky, but certifiably cursed, win 8 games in a row when it counted most to not only be the first team in baseball postseason history to come back from a 3-0 deficit, against the YANKEES no less, but also sweep the formidable Cardinals in the Series. (One question: did the Sox win because the curse was lifted, or did winning shatter the curse?)
It’s a buoyant, poignantly clear early spring day here in Northeast Ohio — one you wish to cradle and protect in its fragile perfection — and after a fine season of consolidation and vertiginous improvement last year, the addition of Aaron Boone at third, Kevin Millwood to the rotation, and a revamped bullpen (especially lefty Arthur Rhodes), we fans (and many pundits) dare to believe our team is poised to give the Twins a run for the American League Central title as home opener festivities commence this afternoon after an up-and-down season-opening 3-3 road trip.
At the other end of the baseball spectrum, the vast open end of the sport’s funnel, my 5 year-old daughter had her first tee-ball practice on Saturday and I had a dopey smile plastered on my face to match the blazing sunshine the entire time. Seeing the seven boys, five girls (nine 5 year-olds and three 6 year-olds) who make up the Mustangs endearingly confused yet eager to throw themselves into the grand old game, with four cheerful, earnest coaches dedicated to laying a groundwork of fundamentals that could provide them anything from a fun season or two, to a lifetime in and around the game, made me feel agreeably rooted and connected.
But for all the continuity of the game, its skills and rituals, things change too: when my older son began tee-ball just 12 years ago, the league was boys only. Saturday, the only time gender even came up was when the head coach gently suggested the boys get used to wearing a supporter and cup at a young age. Advantage, girls!