Oh ye who are weary of Winter, take heart. It’s Spring already!
Or, at least it is in Glendale, Arizona where the Los Angeles Dodgers have started Spring Training. Pitchers and catchers reported February 8, and the full roster encamped last week. The Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks (the only other team now in Spring Training) will open the major league season March 22 in Australia. My friend Delbert Earle believes that one or both will try to sign a kangaroo as a base runner.
Spring is that time when the earth awakens and flowers, never more so than in the souls of baseball fans. If you are a fan worthy of the name, Spring is the time when you believe that your favorite team’s best pitcher will win 25 games in the coming season, the cleanup batter will hit .400, and some guy who has been laboring in obscurity in the minors will be called up to the big team and hit 50 home runs.
Baseball, of course, is a sport that never quite goes away. When they’re not actually playing baseball, they give out awards and trade players and sign insanely mega-buck contracts. But it’s not really baseball season until the weather turns warm, as it has in Glendale. When the crack of the bat is heard in Glendale, Winter is truly over.
I say crack of the bat in deference to my friend Delbert Earle, who is a Dodger fan worthy of the name. Delbert Earle is of the old school that believes that real baseball is only played with bats that crack. He has no truck with bats that clank. As in aluminum.
Delbert Earle deeply regrets that in our schools and colleges, they play baseball with aluminum bats. His boy Elrod plays high school baseball after a fashion, and like any good father, he goes to the games. But he winces every time he hears a clank. He is about aluminum bats as he is about cars with diesel engines. Delbert Earle has a hard time listening to an engine that sounds like it has termites. I have tried to tell him that modern diesel engines are quiet, but he says I’m just not listening hard enough for the termites.
Delbert Earle hopes they don’t have many diesel cars in Glendale, Arizona, where he plans to retire one of these days. He wants a small bungalow in Glendale, preferably within walking distance of the Dodgers’ Spring Training site. He hopes Elrod will come to visit every Spring to hear what real baseball sounds like.
Delbert Earle vows to be a purist in his old age. He doesn’t even plan to drink soda pop from aluminum cans. Beer? Well, maybe.