Monday, March 22, 2010

For What It's Worth

We take many things for granted in today's world of ever-improving technology. I know I sure as heck do. Just last week during the big East Coast rain storms that brought downed trees and power outages all over my hometown, I realized how little I ever really think about electricity as the magical, modern miracle it is.

The simple act of flipping on a light switch, or clicking the power button on a television is pretty much black magic to me.

And that's not even to mention that the television I turn on each day is a razor-thin, High Definition flat screen that weighs a few pounds, at most, and beams somewhere around 800 channels into my home.

Like I said, I take many things for granted.

And this past weekend, I realized that there's one other thing I used to take for granted, but wouldn't dream of doing so now.

And that's the game of baseball.

It was such a huge part of my life when I was growing up--heck, even into my early 20s, the game pretty much consumed my every waking hour.

Practices and games and swings in the batting cage for ridiculous hours at a time. Afternoons spent in the weight room, and mornings spent on the track, sucking in the frosty, biting air of a December cardio session.

Game days were the best, of course.

The smell of the fresh cut grass, and the leather glove at my side. The sound of bat on ball--better in the summers, I have to say, since I played in wooden bat leagues most of my life.

Nothing can beat the crack of a wooden bat--the piercing, sometimes sickening, ping of the aluminum bats we played with in high school and college just wasn't the same.

Baseball was always there for me. Until, of course, it wasn't anymore.

When I was injured in my Sophomore year of college, I decided to give the game up. I remember the night before I had to tell my coach--the coach who gave me money for college because I could swing a bat and throw a ball.

More than that, though, I stayed up all night and I thought about my father.

My Dad, the man who never missed a game, no matter what he had to do in order to get there. My Dad, with whom I still go out in the backyard and play catch. My teacher, and my biggest fan.

Since I stopped playing, this time of year always has a funny effect on me. It's the weather, and the anticipation of a season that used to mean so much. Years ago, January and February meant preparation, and March meant tryouts and practices.

Today, it still means those thing...just not for me.

And that's fine, because I spend my pre-baseball season coaching and teaching and trying to help out any players who call me up and ask to work out. And this past weekend, I had my first such practice with a player who is hoping to make his high school team.

And just being in the cage (even though I was on the other side of the pitcher's screen) and being on the field (even though I was the one hitting the ground balls, instead of fielding them),was enough for me.

Saturday was a beautiful day, and I was on a baseball field. And I'll never take that for granted.

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