Baseball is said to be a marathon, an emotional roller coaster not only for the players, coaches, and media members but also, especially for the fans. Fans invest an inordinate amount of free time into a particular team, 162 games that span six months and the greatest value that they provide to fans is the joy, entertainment, and something to believe in. It is said that, “Faith consists of believing when it’s beyond the power of reason to believe.” (Voltare) There is no more true statement to describe the game of baseball, in my mind, than that one.
Consistently believing no matter what, finding the reasons to be optimistic, and an excitement to see how the next six months will unfold is the story of every Major League Baseball season. Now, every good story has a beginning and as we begin the 2017 season I wanted to evaluate what it is that makes the beginning of a baseball season such a magical time.
In the beginning, no matter if you’re the Chicago Cubs, who have ideas of being the first World Series Champions to repeat since the 90’s New York Yankees, the Arizona Diamondbacks trying to make good on the Shelby Miller deal they made a year ago or the Yankees who are trying to usher in a new era of talented youngsters. It doesn’t matter what team you root for there are always storylines that will intrigue you, give you reason to be optimistic, and excited for what the future holds.
Lets use the two New York teams as examples of teams that are in differing spots with their optimism as we kick off 2017. The Yankees are currently constructed for the future, dealing away veteran players last season in order to restock their farm system, which is a bit out of character for the bosses who don the pinstripes. Something had to change; the team hasn’t made it past the first round of the Playoffs since 2012 and has only even been to the playoffs once since 2012 (Wild Card game loss to the Houston Astros in 2015). This year’s clubhouse is filled up with a dynamic group of young players who are hungry to prove they belong in the teams long term plans and veteran guys who are desperate to prove that they can rekindle the “star” flame which used to burn so brightly.
As for the Yankees cross town brothers from Queens there’s a different narrative, one which carries with it lofty expectations, and an attitude to prove they have what it takes to bring a Championship back to the orange and blue faithful. The New York Mets are trying to accomplish something that has never been done in franchise history, make it to the playoffs in three straight years. Of course, on everyone’s mind is to win a championship along the way, which hasn’t been done since 1986 (31 years this year, 5th longest draught among teams who have previously won a title). The young pitchers are out to shock the world with their collective dominance as a unit, Yoenis Cespedes wants to be the Big Papi of New York, and the bullpen has its sights set on another solid showing this year.
So, what is it that draws people to the beginning of a brand new baseball season? Celebrating it as if it were the Christmas of Spring? It’s all about faith, expectations, and optimism that the months ahead will be bright and sunny and not dark and stormy. The reason people love to watch and amerce themselves in Americas favorite pastime is because it’s a constant in their lives, year in and year out. It’s something a person can rely on and get emotionally invested in for half of a calendar year, where no matter what else is going on in their lives they know, baseball season is here.