Baseball, Poetry and Crocuses (Pitchers and Catchers Report Next Week!)
I found an old baseball of mine a few years ago. The white stitches that replaced the red originals were still in it from my childhood repair work. Throwing grounders in the street tended to chew things up.
We didn’t have megastores 40 years ago where you could buy them cheaply by the dozen. A baseball was precious. This one now sits on my desk in one of those plexiglass cases usually reserved for famously autographed balls.
While the calendar claims it’s winter, and Super Bowl conversation buzzing about, appellate lawyer Jay Breakstone sees spring. Pitchers and catchers are reporting to spring training next week, and the SCOTUS fantasy baseball league is getting ready to draft. He guest-blogged baseball a few years ago, and now returns.
Who says lawyers can’t write like poets?
Everyone in my neighborhood knows that I am the lunatic who walks down his driveway every morning in his bathrobe to get the newspaper. It matters not whether there’s snow on the ground or it’s raining cats and dogs. Going out like that in the morning is my way of thumbing my nose at the seasons.
It says that I am alive and have not succumbed to winter’s cold. It shows that I believe that the sun will come up tomorrow, that there’s a bright golden haze on the meadow somewhere and that baseball will soon be here.
It’s not so much that baseball starts in the spring that makes it so life-affirming, but that baseball starts before spring that is. Baseball assumes, when pitchers and catchers report in mid-February, that the snow on the ground or the chill in the air is just a temporary affliction that time will heal.
The fact that I walk down the driveway every winter morning in my bathrobe to pick up my newspaper, encased in a plastic bag to protect it from the snow and the ice, means nothing to baseball. Baseball knows that somewhere, spring awaits. It knows it before the crocuses stick their necks out of my flower beds and it knows it before that first morning that I can go down my driveway barefoot without freezing my toes off.
Baseball is eternal; a child’s game played by men as if they were boys. There is no time clock in baseball; it is only played in one season – Baseball Season – and games end whenever they end, or when someone’s mother calls them home for dinner.
There is no death in baseball; fathers are fathers and sons are sons and they remain that way forever. There is nothing outside of baseball; it has it’s own rules and traditions, none of which makes sense in the real world, because baseball doesn’t live there.
Finally, there are no green vegetables in baseball, only Cracker Jacks and peanuts in the shell that you get to throw on the floor and no one yells at you.
No matter what happens – - no matter what Congress does or doesn’t do, no matter if global warming has us frying or the polar vortex has us freezing, no matter which Kardashian suffers a urinary tract infection or if Jimmy Fallon succeeds or fails – - no matter what, on March 31st the Mets will open their season against the Washington Nationals. A day game. A place for men to play hookie, once more, and for the world to be re-born, once again.
The magic words? Batter up!
(Jay Breakstone is the author of MondayMonday, his weekly ruminations on NY appellate practice and life.)