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A whole new season

 

L. D. Childers Columnist

  Among the things my father passed on to me, maybe my interest in baseball isnít important in the grand scheme of things. Still, I suppose I like baseball largely because my father liked it, and because he taught me some of the finer points of the game. I learned thereís a lot more to appreciate than just the final scores and the teamsí final records.

  Baseball starts in the spring and ends in the fall. Itís a long season, with a lot of ups and downs.    

  When spring arrives, everything that happened last season, good or bad, is over. In Florida, almost every teamís spring training camp bubbles with optimism. The outfielder who hit .220 last year may hit .320 this coming season. The 40 year-old pitcher whose shoulder broke down last summer may find the Fountain of Youth this year, and bring a younger arm north in April when the season begins.

  Spring means promise, or at least possibilities. We all begin anew each spring, with no wins and no losses. And if things donít start off so great, well, when there are 162 games a season, there are 161 opportunities to do better next time.

  The season is never quite what you expect it to be. You know there will be surprises along the wayósome good and some bad.  It always happens like that.

  Some people think baseball season is too long, but thatís just their opinion. Personally, I thought the movie, The Notebook, was too long, but in reality it was probably no more than ten or twelve hours. Itís all in the eye of the beholder. I like the fact that baseball season lasts a good while. Maybe the long season allows for more surprises.

  Some complain the game itself is too slow, but that slower pace provides time for trips to the concession stand, and time to answer natureís call. It also allows time to shoot the breeze with a son or daughter, or a friend.

  Every team wants to have a great season and end up winning the World Series in the fall, but whether or not they reach that prize, the season provides a lot of moments to enjoyóa lot of moments to remember during the following winteróhopefully more good memories than bad ones. But every season has its own hardships and its own rewards.

  For a team to get where they want to go, they must defeat their opponents at least most of the time. They donít have to hate their opponents; they just have to overcome them. One of the great things about sports is that at least you know who the opponent is.

  Also, all the players know the rules. Well, almost all of them know the rules. And the rules donít change in the middle of a game.

  Come September, even the young players have some wear and tear from the long season, and the old guys, the 35 year-olds are downright tired. But they keep going, and if theyíre still in the race for a championship, the aches and pains donít seem so bad. If they lose ten to nothing one day, as long as theyíre still in the race, theyíre eager for the next game.

  Baseball fundamentals are pretty much the same for little leaguers, softballers and tee ballers as they are for big leaguers.

  The restrooms are closer. Thereís a little less spitting. The season doesnít last 162 games, and parents really hate that. But itís basically the same game. Itís a game God intended to be played outside.

  As for the new season, if past years havenít been all we hoped for and dreamed of, thereís every reason to believe things will improve this time around, no matter what team weíre pulling for. A good week here and there, a lucky break or two, and all of a sudden you realize youíre having a good season. In the meantime, if you hit a losing streak, why not hang tough and expect good things? You just never know.

 

  L. D. Childers lives in Henry County.  His fastball isnít what it used to be, and in truth it was probably never as fast as he remembers it.

 

 

 

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