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30 Days

A continuing series of small essays attempting to get the author ready for the season.

Scale it all the way back. Strip away the Mariners. Forget Ken Burns' baseball. Pretend Babe Ruth didn't exist. Imagine that the game of baseball, fully formed, exists outside of the fabric of our society. For a moment let's say this medium, this website doesn't exist for me to selfishly and narcissistically type these words. There's no Griffey, no Felix, no Alvin Davis, or Ruppert Jones. There's no Dave Niehaus. There is just Baseball. A ball, a glove, and a bat. A gaze inward and plateward, a tightening grip and heart, an enraptured soul.

What is it at the center of the game that drives our love? It's not its simplicity. Soccer and basketball are both global sports of vastly simpler mechanisms and rule sets. It's not pace, which is better suited to a time when life was a journey walked and not driven while texting. It's not an adrenaline rush, or a thrill. Baseball's postseason can produce delicious tension its long regular season, at times, feels like the military field manual of sports. What is it, then, that we love?

No, forget that set up. We don't get to do that. Baseball isn't an intellectual exercise. It is not a thought experiment. Baseball isn't something for us to observe with pithy remarks while adopting the semi-detached perspective of the critic. We do not get to watch humans dedicate their entire lives to this Thing we so enjoy and regard them with casual dismissiveness, or reduce their efforts to a looping visual image for our amusement.

Baseball is something we do, be it as participant or observer. It engages each of us separately, gets to know us in an individual way that no other sport does, letting us see whichever portion of itself appeals to us most, and then it has us. We are not art critics, or beer snobs, or disenfranchised citizens. We are fans, players, umpires, vendors, ushers, parents, children, brothers, sisters. We are a part of this all, this sport these men play every day half the year. Without us and our totality of experience there is no baseball.

From that glove, ball, and bat now let's rebuild the reality of this game, our game. Bring back the history, unlike any sport in the world. Add in the players, athletic marvels redlining the engine of the human body. Layer back baseball's role in our country, our childhood, catch with dad, the grass, peanuts, beer, roars. Add all those things and so many more back in. Now there it is, great and flawed, terribly human and somehow transcendent, "time and timelessness".

At some point in time, somewhere we hit a ball, or backhanded a grounder and threw across our body. We sat on a parent's lap while they told us stories of their childhood. We read a book, or discovered a universe in small cardboard rectangles. We found a sport that not only needed our intellect, but grew to respect it as well.

We have never found anything like it, before or since. We are aligned to it, and it has grown with us along the course of our existence. It changes us, and we it. It is baseball. And it is coming.

30 days...