There's this famous quote from this guy named Bart Giamatti. He was a baseball commissioner and had a bit of character.
Ol' Bart was also a writer. He liked to put down in words what he felt about the game of baseball.
He was a true fan and had a lot to say.
At the end of every baseball season, one of his quotes from a work entitled "The Green Fields of the Mind" is trotted out and poured over by the faithful, including me.
The piece begins "It breaks your heart. It's designed to break your heart."
Bart's talking about how baseball begins all fresh and new and sparkly, stays with you over the course of 162 games, and gives you a story arc that includes Spring, Summer, AND Fall and then goes away abruptly.
Finds you when it is warm, leaves you when it is wet and cold.
Sort of a fair weather friend, that.
And every October, I get a little down. The World Series ends, baseball isn't on the radio anymore and I have to actually decide what to watch on TV instead of having it decided for me.
No longer do I worry over a pitcher's arm or that catcher's bum knee or why the hell that guy took that bad route to get to a routine fly ball.
Baseball leaves a big empty that cannot be refilled.
Like a whirlwind romance that fills my days with daydreams and my nights with passion and I get to thinking I could never live without it.
And then it leaves me.
But weirdly, baseball is a fickle lover.
Because come March, baseball finds it's way back to my arms.
Yesterday, because I could feel the return on the wind, I engaged in my annual viewing of "Bull Durham." It's a preparatory event. An ablution. A ritual cleansing to prepare me for the return.
This morning I will have either "61*" or "The Natural" playing in the background while I work, to continue my readiness.
And then, today, at noon, or 12:05 actually, I will once again hear Duane Kuiper say "Giants baseball is on the radio."
While it may only be a Spring Training game, some harmless flirtation and not the real thing yet, I will listen. I might even cry when I hear Jon Miller's voice (it's happened before).
I will hear how Bengie Molina may or may not have lost weight. I will hear how our multi-million dollar Cy Young winning, dope smoking kid has fared in the off season. I will listen for details on the new kids and assessments on the old kids and I will find that yawning chasm inside of me will begin to quiet again.
Because today, my love has returned to me.
It broke my heart, but I will forgive and forget. I will give myself with reckless abandon, not caring that October looms somewhere out there. No, today I will pretend that it will never leave me again.
God I love baseball.