Valentine’s Day has come and gone and while some of you may have sent flowers or candy to your loved one or made dinner reservations in advance to your favorite restaurant, there are some who aren’t able to share in such festivities. So I got to thinking about this and decided that for some of us our loved one is not necesasarily a person. In some cases it’s the car we drive, the house we live in, a favorite vacation spot or our favorite sports or sports team we cheer for through thick and thin. My true love is baseball and has been since I was a boy growing up in North Carolina. Sure it was minor league baseball I was brought up on mostly in my early years, but it was still baseball. The Durham Bulls were my local team, my dad took me to numerous games and later I was fortunate enough in my adult life to have worked many seasons for them. I remember the crackled and buzzed nights of AM radio listening to home and away games on AM 620 WDNC.
I followed most of the popular teams in major league baseball, the Reds, Yankees, Dodgers, Angels, etc in my youth. But as I got older I began to discriminate. I didnt follow all the same teams, more it was certain players. Rod Carew was one of my biggest heroes. Reggie Jackson, Pete Rose as well to name a few. I remember crying when I’d heard Thurman Munson died in a plane crash. Then later along came Ripken, Eckersley, Vince Coleman, Strawberry, Gooden, Schmidt, Ozzie, Lasorda, Billy Martin, Whitey Herzog, Kirby Puckett, the voice of Vin Scully on Saturday afternoons, the list goes on. My list of heroes grew with every inning played. The current NBC hit television series ‘Heroes’ has nothing on these guys.
Just like people in love often do, we too fought about money. Who deserved a bigger contract and who didnt. Why 1991 high school phenom Brien Taylor got a 1.5 million dollar bonus to sign with the Yankees after being drafted and never making it to the major leagues? Or how it’s not always the size of the payroll, that determines who wins the World Series. It didnt stop there, later it became the cost of a hotdog and a beer, parking, or even the cost of playoff and World Series tickets.
Today I am alot more discriminatory in what players I follow and what teams I follow. The heroes list today is alot smaller than it was 20 even 30 years ago, as baseball heroes are few and far between. I still follow the Orioles and the Durham Bulls, though even in the internet age when you’re not living on the East Coast it’s not an easy thing to do.
Baseball, plain and simple, I love you. There’s no Hallmark card, flowers or candy that can express it any other way. There’s no candlelight dinner reservation or a night spent at the Brown Palace Hotel either. I love the Rockies, Coors Field, the Rockpile seats in center field. I love the Blake Street Bombers, a walk off homerun by Todd Helton in the 9th, I love the leadership of a young Troy Tulowitzki. I love it when we disagree on who should be in the starting rotation or why you didnt bunt to move the runner over instead of hitting into the 50th double play to end the inning of the season. I love a Matt Holliday 2 run blast to left center field, or Brad Hawpe throwing a runner out at home plate from right field. I love it that time doesnt matter when we’re together, there’s no 2 minute warning, or 24 second shot clock.
You’ve done some stupid things over the years and I have criticized you for them. I am only looking out for your best interests. I only want what is best for you. It’s what you do when you care. Though I dont approve of all of your friends, especially the one’s who try to screw with your integrity, it doesnt seem to bother you. You just continue being you. Though we may fight over money, and have disagreements on our ideas about the future, I am glad to know that you’re still here.
Pitchers and catchers report today for spring training…