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Tag Archive: 365

Apr 03

Ode to Opening Day When Any Team Can Win the Pennant

Dear Readers: This column was published back in the day when there was not much hope about the Kansas City Royals winning the Pennant, let alone the Division. That changed, as the photo below shows, with the Royals celebrating their big win in the 5th game of the 2015 World Series v. the Mets in New York.

Here then is a look back at one of my columns about the Kansas City Royals–Ode to Opening Day when any team can win the Pennant (Go Royal Sox!) First published April 9, 2009, in The Examiner, an Eastern Jackson County, Mo., daily newspaper.

 

Royals win World Series 2015

Photo flashback: Royals win 2015 World Series 

“You always get a special kick on Opening day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you’re a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen.” – Joe DiMaggio.

Brimming with optimism as I drove along the interstate, I tuned the dial to sports radio hoping to find a pleasurable experience listening to the Kansas City Royals on Home Opening Day 2009.

And truthfully, I found one, even though the “boys in blue” had already lost their season opener away at the Chicago White Sox.

Yes, each spring, baseball makes us believe all over again that all things are possible, for a few weeks at least.

Any team can win the Pennant on opening day, maybe even the World Series.

The worst team in the league can be at 500 in mere days. The coaches have winning records, and the pitchers have great stats. Every batter can be Babe Ruth, every fielder Jackie Robinson, on opening day.

“There is no sports event like Opening Day of baseball, the sense of beating back the forces of darkness,” author George Vecsey writes in A Year in the Sun (1989).

Thus, beating back my own disappointing memories, I decided to believe, really believe, in the home team despite its heart-breaking precedent and its past mediocrity.

The ghosts of failure would not haunt me this season, I vowed.

After all, it was Opening Day. They might win!

They did not.

However, these guys are pretty good, or so they say in Chicago.

The son who moved to the Chicago area called to say the local media there were highly respectful of the Royals and that they have some real talent on board this year. “The Sox won,” he reported.

The son who moved to Boston sent an iPhone photo from Opening Day at Fenway where the Boston Red Sox were playing Tampa Bay. “The Sox won,” the lucky duck texted.

So, should we rename our team Sox, I pondered? How about the Kansas City Royal Sox? Has a nice ring to it.

Not discouraged yet, I called the son who lives in Kansas City to tell him how great the Royals were in defeat. He quickly reminded me that I say this every Opening Day.

Baseball-almanac.com agrees, “Regardless of the outcome, Opening Day still remains as the number one date in the hearts, minds (and on the calendars) of baseball fans everywhere. The official countdown begins after the last pitch of the World Series when we can’t wait to hear those two magic words again, Play Ball!”

And if you will, those magic words, “We won!”

The late Jack Buck, St. Louis Cardinals sportscaster, summed up best our Opening Day dreams with his original on-air radio poem, titled “365”:

“When someone asks you your favorite sport
And you answer Baseball in a blink
There are certain qualities you must possess
And you’re more attached than you think.

In the frozen grip of winter
I’m sure you’ll agree with me
Not a day goes by without someone
Talking baseball to some degree.
The calendar flips on New Year’s Day
The Super Bowl comes and it goes
Get the other sports out of the way
The green grass and the fever grows.
It’s time to pack a bag and take a trip
To Arizona or the Sunshine State
Perhaps you can’t go, but there’s the radio
So you listen-you root-you wait.

They start the campaign, pomp and pageantry reign
You claim the Pennant on Opening Day.”

 

Oct 19

A look back at my columns about the Kansas City Royals: Part 2 — Ode to Opening Day when any team can win the Pennant (Go Royal Sox!) First published April 9, 2009, in The Examiner, an Eastern Jackson County, Mo., daily newspaper.

Ode to Opening Day when any team can win the Pennant (Go Royal Sox!) 

“You always get a special kick on Opening day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you’re a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen.” – Joe DiMaggio.

Brimming with optimism as I drove along the interstate, I tuned the dial to sports radio hoping to find a pleasurable experience listening to the Kansas City Royals on Opening Day 2009.

And truthfully, I found one, even though the “boys in blue” lost their season opener away at the Chicago White Sox.

Yes, each spring, baseball makes us believe all over again that all things are possible, for a few weeks at least.

Any team can win the Pennant on opening day, maybe even the World Series.

The worst team in the league can be at 500 in mere days. The coaches have winning records, and the pitchers have great stats. Every batter can be Babe Ruth, every fielder Jackie Robinson, on opening day.

“There is no sports event like Opening Day of baseball, the sense of beating back the forces of darkness,” author George Vecsey writes in A Year in the Sun (1989).

Thus, beating back my own disappointing memories, I decided to believe, really believe, in the home team despite its heart-breaking precedent and its past mediocrity.

The ghosts of failure would not haunt me this season, I vowed.

After all, it was Opening Day. They might win!

They did not.

However, these guys are pretty good, or so they say in Chicago.

The son who moved to the Chicago area called to say the local media there were highly respectful of the Royals and that they have some real talent on board this year. “The Sox won,” he reported.

The son who moved to Boston sent an iPhone photo from Opening Day at Fenway where the Boston Red Sox were playing Tampa Bay. “The Sox won,” the lucky duck texted.

So, should we rename our team Sox, I pondered? How about the Kansas City Royal Sox? Has a nice ring to it.

Not discouraged yet, I called the son who lives in Kansas City to tell him how great the Royals were in defeat. He quickly reminded me that I say this every Opening Day.

Baseball-almanac.com agrees, “Regardless of the outcome, Opening Day still remains as the number one date in the hearts, minds (and on the calendars) of baseball fans everywhere. The official countdown begins after the last pitch of the World Series when we can’t wait to hear those two magic words again, Play Ball!”

And if you will, those magic words, “We won!”

The late Jack Buck, St. Louis Cardinals sportscaster, summed up best our Opening Day dreams with his original on-air radio poem, titled “365”:

“When someone asks you your favorite sport
And you answer Baseball in a blink
There are certain qualities you must possess
And you’re more attached than you think.

In the frozen grip of winter
I’m sure you’ll agree with me
Not a day goes by without someone
Talking baseball to some degree. ?
The calendar flips on New Year’s Day
The Super Bowl comes and it goes
Get the other sports out of the way
The green grass and the fever grows. ?
It’s time to pack a bag and take a trip
To Arizona or the Sunshine State
Perhaps you can’t go, but there’s the radio
So you listen-you root-you wait.

They start the campaign, pomp and pageantry reign
You claim the Pennant on Opening Day.”

Mar 03

Spring baseball training—play ball!

“In the frozen grip of winter, I’m sure you’ll agree with me. Not a day goes by without someone talking baseball to some degree.” –the late Jack Buck, St. Louis Cardinals sportscaster.

If you don’t like spring baseball training, you are sick, or so said a radio announcer recently.

Each spring, baseball does indeed make us believe all over again that all things are possible, for a few weeks at least.

But long before spring arrives, baseball junkies and even the uninterested pine for the 30 MLB teams to begin practicing and playing in the Cactus League in Arizona or the Grapefruit League in Florida.

I suppose it is a right of passage signifying that winter is finally coming to an end.

Those 30 teams are divided evenly into two practice leagues, fifteen in each, but they are not limited to playing each other. They may also hold intra-squad games or play minor league teams or even college teams.

For a lot of other reasons, preseason is not at all like the regular season, and perhaps that is the beauty of it.

Did you know that statistics are no big deal in the preseason? A no-hitter or some other record-breaking performance could receive bored yawns in pre-season and is not added to the regular season stats.

Pitchers and catchers arrive early so they can have longer practices. The rest of the team gets there eventually. And as to attire, teams typically wear practice jerseys, not breaking out their official duds until opening day.

Families plan vacations and students schedule their spring break trips to be a part of spring training. They pack a picnic, visit with the players and enjoy the sunshine in Florida or Arizona.

The atmosphere is casual, relaxed and a whole barrel of fun.

As Jack Buck noted in his on-air radio poem titled “365”, “The green grass and the fever grows. It’s time to pack a bag and take a trip to Arizona or the Sunshine State. ?Perhaps you can’t go, but there’s the radio. So, you listen-you root-you wait.”

It’s a fever, and I am catching it. I may pack a bag.

But there is more to the story. In addition to being just plain fun, spring baseball training is big business.

According to the Arizona Republic, the Cactus League generates more than $300 million a year in economic impact to the greater Phoenix metropolitan area economy. The new Salt River Fields at Talking Stick complex is the latest of eight new stadiums built in the Valley of the Sun over the past 20 years. The Arizona Republic newspaper reports that more than $500 million has been spent on “building eight new stadiums and renovating two others for the 15 teams in the Valley.”

Likewise in Florida, professional baseball means millions of dollars to the Florida economy. According to capitalsoup.com, a recent study commissioned by the Florida Sports Foundation revealed a $752-million annual impact on Florida’s economy from Major League spring training. The same study also reported spring training supported or created more than 9,200 part-time or full-time jobs.

More than the business of it all, it is our love affair with spring baseball training and with baseball itself that makes it our national sport.

Buck summed it up nicely for us: “When someone asks you your favorite sport, and you answer baseball in a blink, there are certain qualities you must possess, and you’re more attached than you think.”

And as Walt Whitman said, “I see great things in baseball. It’s our game—the American game. It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, and give them a larger physical stoicism. Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set. Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us.”

Yes, we are more attached than we think.

Play ball!

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