Baseball Toaster Cub Town
One Hundred Thirty Down, Six to Go
2005-02-10 07:56
by Derek Smart

Despite some actual tidings coming down the pike yesterday, the paucity of activity at the onset of February makes the period hard to take. The lack of news or even rumor combined with the lack of on-field action that, its proximity notwithstanding, seems aeons removed as a reality, makes these few remaining days before players report the most maddening in the calendar.

It's during these times of trial that men turn to the things that comfort them most, and what can be more comforting to one who fancies himself a literate baseball fan than the words of Roger Angell? I've had the distinct pleasure this week of beginning what I'm sure will be the first of many perusals of The Summer Game, and as will often happen when media mix, I had a lovely moment this morning when the words on the page and the music in my ears amplified each other's meaning and made for an experience that was greater combined than it could have been separate.

First, we have Angell's words, delightful and uplifting on their own:

Mornings are the best time at a winter ballpark. After calisthenics, the players scatter - pickups and pepper, outfield wind-sprints, batting for the scrubeenies, infield practice for the regulars. The batting-practice pitcher throws and, with the same motion, drops his head below the low screen just in front of him; the man in the cage swings away, the ball flies over second, and, an instant later, coaches on the first and third baselines tap grounders that cross each other on the way to opposite sides of the infield. A couple of sportswriters, wearing T-shirts, shades, and team caps, emerge from the dugout carrying cardboard containers of coffee. The smell of coffee fills the air, mixing with the smell of freshly mown grass.

It's a complete picture, and even in the cramped rush-hour confines of the Red Line, I can feel the grass and hear the sound of bat on ball. The smell of my coffee transporting me, I stand among the sportswriters, admiring the men going through their preparations, warmed by the sun, caressed by the wind.

Then in comes, of all things, a song by Eels called Fresh Feeling. It has the languid aura of summer on the porch, and as I'm reading the words above, the chorus keeps easing its way into the affair, gently joining with the printed page, each welcoming the other as unexpected but pleasant guests in their respective worlds.

birds singing a song,
old paint is peeling,
this is that fresh
that fresh feeling

words can't be that strong
my heart is reeling
this is that fresh
that fresh feeling

Not meant to be together, composed over thirty years apart, they still mesh and make a moment that can carry a man through the most glacial of winter days, and carry me they will. I don't know what will get me though tomorrow, none of us do, but it's the hope and faith that something will come to make it worthwhile, big or small, that gets me up in the morning. And it's moments like I experienced today that make me anxious to see what it will be.

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.