I write this on the eve of Opening Day 2019, a day long awaited by many. It signals the arrival of spring, the closeness of summer, and the beginning of another season of baseball. Major League Baseball is something I haven't followed closely for a long time, but this year, I think it's time to change that.
Baseball wasn't always on my radar growing up, but I decided to give it a try in both second and third grade. That experiment didn't really work out; I was an awful baseball player. But my short venture into the sport taught me enough about the rules, the teams, and the culture enough to make me a baseball fan.
I rooted for my home state team, of course: the Minnesota Twins. I arrived as a spectator in the glory days of Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, the M&M; boys. That first great year, 2009, was enough to keep me hooked for awhile. The Twins won the AL Central over the Detroit Tigers and went on to suffer an all too common defeat to the New York Yankees in the ALDS. There was palpable excitement about that season; the farewell to the Metrodome, the return of Joe Mauer after a big injury, all-star closer Joe Nathan, and an overall solid team that would be expected to potentially make a run in the playoffs.
I loved the ritual of coming home at the end of the day from my summer activities and turning on the TV to the nightly Twins game. What I experienced is probably why so many fans are drawn to the game: the surplus of games, the mesmerizing slowness of play that transforms into big plays, and the natural statistical element of the game that creates its own area of study, sabermetrics. But like I do with a lot of things, I eventually got bored and moved on to other interests.
Meeting a lot of people this first year at college has yielded a lot of baseball fans. Talking with them about the game has drawn back a whole host of memories, from the terminology I remember to the great rosters I watched those years. The passion with which they follow the sport and its intricacies rivals that of all other sports and is in a league of its own. And simply remembering the old-time, American appeal of the sport has left me wanting to come back. All of this makes me ask, why am I not a baseball fan?
That's not to say I'm doing this for appearances or for my own benefit; I've definitely become more interested in the game as of late. I think there's something in it for everyone: stats, raw displays of athletic power, and the overall excitement of following a professional sports team. And it just is something different; a sport that is so unique in its style of play and rules but, generally, understood by many.
Hopefully I'll be able to make a trip to the ballpark this summer. I've definitely felt left out these past years, not understanding anything I was hearing about the MLB. I'll be jumping back on with the Minnesota Twins, and a roster that I do not recognize whatsoever. Oh well. I think my knowledge of the more basic parts of the game will be enough to get me started over again. Regardless, I'm excited for this season, and you should be too!