March 28, 2019

Baseball is our game: the American game: I connect it with our national character. Sports take people out of doors, get them filled with oxygen, generate some of the brutal customs (so-called brutal customs) which, after all, tend to habituate people to a necessary physical stoicism. We are some ways a dyspeptic, nervous set: anything which will repair such losses may be regarded as a blessing to the race. We want to go out and howl, swear, run, jump, wrestle, even fight, if only by so doing we may improve the guts of the people: the guts, vile as guts are, divine as guts are! -- Walt Whitman

Morning Joe started today with a clip from Field of Dreams:

The one constant throughout the years has been baseball. Rolled by like an army of steam rollers, erased like a blackboard, erased and built again, but baseball is a mark of team. This field is game, it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh, it will come, Ray. It will most definitely come.

I'm not sentimental about most things, but I am about baseball. I have been tied to the game, literally, since birth; my birthday marks the last game of the regular season, and my father and brothers would rush through the birthday song so they could grab a piece of cake and run to the living room, where they could watch the Phillies play the final game. (Because back then, the Phillies very rarely made it to the post-season.) So forgive my taking a brief digression from the mind-boggling news of the day, and remind you that every year, we get to relive our younger, more optimistic days, and believe mightily that this just might be our year.

"It's magic. It's magic, Mike Barnicle. That's a movie, that's a movie that I don't even dare try to show Mika because the whole way through, like Bush '41 she'd be saying 'I don't get it, I don't get it.' But what a movie and what a day. It is opening day across America," Joe Scarborough said.

"You know, I had to fight back a little tear in my eye listening to that introduction," Barnicle said.

"Baseball is part of us. It's like our faith. You're born with it and you live with it and it's every day. It's a constant. The days get longer, the weather gets warmer. It's a relief from the everyday stress of things we talk about each and every day and it is back finally today. We will pursue it over the course of the next six or seven months each and every day, waking up every morning, 'Did the Red Sox beat the Yankees last night and you don't have to worry about what's happening in Washington, D.C. because you worry about the American League East."

(Actually, Mike, we worry about the National League East.)

"I've been a dad for 85 years, had 47 kids and it doesn't matter whether they're 30 or 10, baseball is the constant and all of my kids are always on a text chain and more often than not all four of us -- all five of us were texting about baseball and trades even into off season," Scarborough said.

"Again, it's crazy but in this age of smartphones and in this age of Fortnite, it's still baseball that, at least in our family, brings all the generations together."

That's right. I can't think of baseball without remembering my Dad, sitting on the porch at night, listening to the game on the radio, the glowing tip of his cigar the only thing visible in the dark. The sound of a base hit and the excitement of announcer Harry Kalas, the commercials for Ballantine Beer, our local sponsor.

Only one of my sons likes baseball. But he's a Mets fan. (Sigh.)

I confess, I no longer follow the standings, nor do I much care what team is playing. I just need the summer soundtrack of a bat hitting a ball, the roar of the crowd, in the background. It makes me happy.

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