Football season ends today

image

I haven’t cared about the NFL for a very long time, probably since Mike Ditka was coaching the Bears. So I take my football in smaller doses, usually at the college level. This year, it has also included my high school alma mater, for the first time since I graduated high school. Life can take some unexpected turns sometimes.

A few minutes from now, the Cyclones of Sacred Heart-Griffin High will play for the Illinois class 5A championship, and while that game is going on, the Northwestern Wildcats will play the University of Illinois for the title of best FBS school not named Northern Illinois. It’s a down year at the college level, that’s for sure.

By early this afternoon, football will join baseball as sports that are in their offseason to me. Basketball and hockey, by comparison, never make it to my radar screen to begin with. Sports as a whole won’t matter again until March at the earliest. But that will be just fine with me.

April is here at last

It’s finally April, at least on the calendar. It feels like April was here a few weeks ago, or maybe like April never came at all this year.

But no amount of warm weather could bring the baseball season any earlier. Spring training is an annual ritual, which must be carried through to its completion. But the end is finally in sight.

Next weekend will find us all at the start of a new season. There will be surprises and storylines aplenty, and every day will bring new opporunities for history to be made.

Last night, as the Final Four was unfolding on television, I started to talk about baseball. I put forth my theory that unlike basketball and football, baseball is an everyday sport. You couldn’t have another sports league survive with the business model that baseball has. Injuries would destroy the players’ pool, but public apathy would set in pretty quick, too.

When a player has a great game, or a lousy one, they don’t have a chance to linger on it for too long. There’s another chance the next day. That’s the best I can do to explain the appeal of this game for me.

I sometimes see people wearing “Baseball is life” t-shirts. I don’t entirely believe in this sentiment, but I’m happy to point out the similarities between them from time to time.

Happy baseball season to one and all.

Who says baseball is in trouble?

Youth Baseball S/S Willow

The World Series that just concluded last night has demonstrated that baseball is alive and well. And if anybody wants to point to television ratings as an indication of anything, I’ll simply say this: Baseball was around before anyone knew what television was, and it will still be around after nobody can remember what television was anymore. Television may be the Titanic, but baseball is the iceberg. And remember how that encounter played out.

What that line of thinking–that low ratings is bad for baseball–seems to presuppose that the Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, or one of the other large market teams is needed to give an air of legitimacy to the postseason. And the Cardinals, Rangers, Tigers, Brewers, and every other playoff team this year just proved that you can have a compelling month of baseball without those teams. What happens on the field is what really counts.

The shirt I’m wearing right now is a green one that I bought in Central Park last summer, as shown in the picture above. It was a fundraising-type thing for the Central Park Conservancy, and I was happy to add a few shekels to the cause of keeping Central Park what it is. A city like New York deserves nothing less than an awesome park in the middle of it. Anyway, you can see that the shirt has some crossed baseball bats on it and reads “Central Park Baseball, since 1858.”

I don’t know whether games in Central Park go back that far or not, but it’s possible they could. I’m sure that I wouldn’t recognize too much about a baseball game from 153 years ago. But then again, most of society wouldn’t be too familiar to me, either. In 1858, nobody knew what a telephone was, nobody had ever held a dollar bill before, and almost nobody had ever been photographed. Slavery was still legal in many states, and the Civil War was still three years away. But, if the shirt is to be believed, there was baseball being played back then.

My point is that the game has evolved over the years and decades, but it has also endured. Basketball and football may claim that they are America’s sport of choice, but the NBA is about to do much worse damage to itself this year than baseball did in 1994. Neither basketball nor football is woven into the fabric of this nation as much as baseball clearly is. The postseason and the World Series give us all a chance to remember how great the game is, and how much we, as Americans, rely on it as a way of marking the time.

I’m going to continue writing about baseball-related topics over the offseason, in part because it helps to keep the game alive in my heart and my head. Additionally, I have just been accepted into the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, and I want create even more content than I already have (and it’s quite a lot, believe me) for any of those folks who come on by this way. Some of my posts will be about other topics, because there’s much more to life than baseball, and I’ll never lose sight of that.

This blog will continue to be what it is–Rob’s digital soapbox for putting thoughts and ideas into the wider world. It’s heavy on the baseball, for sure, but has some pretty diverse and eclectic things thrown in, too. Interesting enough–I hope–to come back to on occasion, at least.

The offseason begins today, so let’s make it a good one!