“Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world.”
– Virgil Kraft
It means so many things to so many people.
I love the Springtime, and it seems I come to love it more every year. Today is one of the most anticipated days of the year for me. The Master’s Tournament tees off at Augusta National in Georgia at 10:30 ET. It also happens to be Opening Day for Major League Baseball.
This brings me to a unique predicament – What will I watch?
I have been born and raised in Dixie. As a result, sports play a central role in my life. I love football season come fall (and everyone knows that real football is only played in Southern states). I absolutely adore the blossoms of historically Southern shrubbery – Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Hydrangeas, Magnolias, Dogwoods.
And Baseball? Oh baseball…It is my first love. It brings me back to my childhood. I can close my eyes and smell the leather of my glove. The sweat in the brim of my hat. The scent of freshly cut grass wafting through the air. There is absolutely nothing like Opening Day of baseball season.
It brings with it a sense of hope and dreams of glory for fans around the nation. This year happens to be even more special. Last season ended with a young man, David Freese, playing for his home-town St. Louis Cardinals, smashing a game-winning home run in the 11th inning of Game 6 of the World Series.
That home run signified the boyhood dream for MILLIONS of American men and boys. We have all imitated our favorite players, played the role of the announcer in the back yard, hitting the game-winning home run of the World Series.
Not only that, but it capped a miraculous run by the Cardinals. Nobody, and I mean nobody expected them to win it all last year. They were just about average to above-average in every sense of the word. They were 10 games out of the playoffs heading into September. They faced the best team in baseball in the first round of the playoffs. They were down to their final strike how many times in game 6?
But they never gave up. They weren’t expected to win, but they had nothing to lose.
They kept swinging, kept throwing. Luck swung in their favor, they never hung their head low, never felt unworthy. And they walked away champions.
The point of this story is two-fold. First, it signifies the fighting spirit bred into every American. It has existed since our country was founded in the 1700’s. It existed as we survived the Civil War. It survived the Great Depression, two World Wars, and terror attacks. And it has always walked away with it’s head held high.
Secondly, this season, every fan has a legitimate reason to embrace hope. No matter what team you root for, the St. Louis Cardinals proved anything is possible. Not only that, but the level of competition is more equal than it has been in decades. Anyone from Tampa Bay, to Kansas City, to New York City has a reason to believe the impossible is possible.
As for me? I will try to forget the collapse of a year ago, and hope to experience the elation of victory for the first time since I was 9 years old.
I am a life-long Atlanta Braves fan. You will probably never meet a bigger fan.