February 3 - Yearning For Opening Day
Ladies and gentlemen of the congregation, please take your seats and prepare for the service.
No, dear reader, you have not accidentally stumbled upon the wrong column. I have not turned to
You see, pitchers and catchers report in a couple of weeks, and this is one of the few times to which
fans of some teams can look forward. This is the Christmas morning, the opening day of March
Madness and the birth of a child all rolled into one for baseball fans.
Baseball fans cannot be atheistic. Sure, their Sunday morning ritual may have more to do with T.J.,
Boomer and the FOX crew than robes, crosses and hymns, but their faith is undeniable. Just as
some can recite scripture, others can rattle off statistics from days of yore. There is almost no Cub
fan still alive who saw their last World Series victory, but they feel the next one. They never doubt the
Cubs’ return to prominence. Their faith is renewed every year about this time.
At the risk of sounding sacrilegious, the parallels between churchgoer and sports fan are many.
Sure, the significance of one belief versus the other can be debated, but the similarities do exist. The
one basis on which they both stand is hope.
Message boards everywhere are littered with countdowns to the reporting dates for pitchers and
catchers. Fans are starting to buzz again. The Cubs, Royals, Pirates and others are contenders.
The black marks on everyone’s favorite teams have not seen the light – yet. It is almost akin to the
start of a new relationship during the “getting to know you” phase, and sports fans get to experience
this feeling every year, if not with the turn of every sporting season.
Even the most true believer has circumstances that shake the foundation of their beliefs, and sport is
no different. Baseball fans have had to endure strikes, short-sighted business deals and drug
scandals, and, shaken as they may be, they still hang on. They hang on because sports represent
more to them than just a diversion for a few hours every day, week or month. Their love and faith
started as a child, from a parent or from a friend and blossomed into what it is now. It represents
something more pure and innocent than the mundane nature of the rest of their life, no matter what
may tarnish that sentiment.
So, while stadiums in Arizona and Florida prepare for the yearly trips to the baseball fan’s mecca and
millions of Americans shake off the cold of another brutal winter, a figurative flower blooms in the
hearts of fans everywhere. The growth will wilt for many – some as early as late-April – but will never
disappear. It will simply wait for the sun and the sound of baseballs hitting leather and wood to again
make it grow.