Winter is over, and baseball is here at last

**This piece was originally published at Bless You Boys on Feb 19, 2015**

Baseball is a game of measured breaths.

It is the time between moments, when a pitcher adjusts his grip and a batter chokes up on the bat. It is the ebb and flow of the outfield, as the tides change from power hitters to pinch bunters. Baseball is in the chants of a crowd, the jeers of the opposition, and the brief seconds of pure quiet when we wait for magic to happen.

And what is winter, if not our longest held breath?

We wait through the cold, counting down the weeks from the last pitch of the World Series to the first pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training in Florida and Arizona. We latch on to every bit of baseball news dropped to us over the bitter winter months. The merits of trades are weighed and debated. Free agent players we can’t imagine living without are suddenly gone, and players we never thought to see wear our team’s colours are taking a place on the 40-man roster. Surprising rookies and unknown elements are given the golden ticket to Spring Training camp.

And we wait.

One of the most-heard refrains from non-baseball fans is that the sport is boring. “It’s just guys standing around.” It’s been called an intelligent man’s game. A patient man’s game. But fans know the worthwhile bounty of that patience. For every move, every pause, every lull and lapse in a game, is all for something truly beautiful. It’s the crisp crack of the bat, that sounds different for a home run than a ground ball or a foul tip. It’s the wild catch or the unforgettable error.

Every game is made of moments.

Every player is a hero at least once a season.

We wait through winter, because from April to October our souls are fed by hits and walks and outs and bad calls and brilliant catches. Each blown save or walk off win melts away a little of our December sadness, until all that remains is the sheer perfection of a June day in stadium seats, your jersey stained by hot dog mustard and a sunburn creeping over your nose while you watch those quiet beats and those heart stopping moments.

Baseball is a game of love.

It is a sport that wholly enamors us and seeps into our hearts. We know the players’ names, we know the rivalries. We remember everything, because it all seems worthy of recall.

Remember Magglio Ordonez and his 3-run home run to send the Tigers to the 2006 Series?

Remember Justin Verlander pitching a no-hitter?

Remember Jim Joyce making the wrong call, and Prince Fielder stealing a fan’s nachos, and Phil Coke pointing to the sky for the final catch? Remember Porcello flipping Kevin Youkilis, or how you felt when you heard Curtis Granderson was traded?

These moments make us a community. They tie us to the team, and to the game. They are memories we share collectively, turning us into a strange and dysfunctional family that comes together 162 times a year.

These moments make the long winter wait worth it.

And now the waiting is done.

A new season is laid out before us, and spring offers new beginnings, new opportunities. For a few weeks more, our record is flawless. We are unbeatable. Bloggers and journalists are busy projecting the October forecast, but for fans, for players, Spring is the perfect, unblemished starting point. We are unbeaten. We are ready.

The moments are coming.

But for now we can stop holding our breath.

Winter is over.

Baseball is here.

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