Tag Archives: Progressive Field

Baseball: You can go home again

photo(1)Last weekend I went back to Cleveland to play golf with my oldest friends on the planet, the guys I grew up with in our old neighborhood straddling the border between Cleveland Heights and South Euclid. The trip was planned solely on our availability to get together for 18 holes, and it was a happy coincidence that the Indians were in town.

My younger son and I rolled into to my brother’s place late Saturday afternoon, affording us enough time to head downtown to Progressive (nee Jacobs) Field and catch the Tribe against the Twins. This was only my second visit to the “new” stadium, a few blocks inland on East 9th Street from the old Municipal Stadium where I saw scores of games years ago. Progressive Field afforded us a fine angle to the diamond from our perch on the top deck off home plate and just up the first base line.

I got to spend time with my son, had a hotdog with the great mustard from the old stadium, The Indians won, and there were fireworks after the game.

The experience — right down to the post-game parking lot jam — stirred up a lot of fond memories and stoked the fire in this fan’s unceasing hope for a Cleveland championship one of these years. As I write this post, I’m wearing my Grady Sizemore T-shirt. I bought it along with one for my granddaughter a couple of years back.

She turns four this summer, and if the Tribe can’t win it all in my lifetime, may it happen in hers. I pray, dear God, I pray.

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Fixing the date for the Baseball Solstice

Now is the winter of our discontent, baseball fans. The World Series ended on Oct. 28, and nearly two months later I’m really starting to miss the game.

Musing on this long dormant period for the national pastime, I’ve concluded that like our pagan ancestors, we must mark the passage of the seasons. And that means fixing what I’ll call the “baseball solstice,” the mid-point between the end of one season and the beginning of another.

The end of the World Series seems an overwhelmingly logical point to mark the end of a season.

But what constitutes the beginning of a new season? “Opening Day” used to mean the oldest continuously operating professional franchise, the Reds, taking the field in Cincinnati. But Major League Baseball has trampled tradition with early openers in Japan and kooky staggered schedules.

The reporting date in Arizona and Florida for pitchers and catchers is inadequate — there are no inning-by-inning broadcasts on the radio to record what happens, no box scores to enter anything into history.

That leads to one conclusion: The new season commences with the first games of Spring Training, when the teams take the field and the umpire cries “Play ball!” Every rookie has the potential to make the team, every veteran a chance to perform even better than the year before.

In 2012, the first games will be on March 2.

Between the last out of the 2011 World Series and those first Cactus and Grapefruit league ballgames, 134 125 days — better than one-third of a calendar year — will have passed since the Rangers’ David Murphy flied out to Allen Craig of the Cardinals.

So the mid-point, the baseball solstice, will be 67 62.5 days later, Dec. 30, 2011.

It’s a fitting date. In much of the United States, that’s the dead of winter with snow blanketing many a ballfield.

I’ll do something to mark the occasion. I could bay at the moon like some ancient Druid at Stonehenge and try to conjure a power hitter for the San Francisco Giants. Or maybe I’ll just look toward Progressive Field in Cleveland, beseeching the baseball gods to make 2012 the year the Indians win it all.

Centuries from now, our descendants may chance upon the ruins of Wrigley and contemplate the meaning and magic that dwelt there in ages past. With curiosity they may look upon the remains of home plate at Fenway Park or ponder what’s left of the fountains at Kauffman Stadium.

We owe it to our descendants to mark the Baseball Solstice in ceremonies of our own devising. So join me Jan. 4 Dec. 30 at sunrise. I will be in Pittsburgh, summoning my father’s spirit to bring the Pirates some luck.

Addendum: My headline on “Fixing” the date of the Baseball Solstice turned out to be a bit of irony. I miscounted the days and got the mid-point wrong. As Paul notes below, the correct date is Dec. 30, not Jan. 4. It’s still a day to celebrate.