Editorial: Appreciation of national pastime

Apr. 08, 2013 @ 02:46 PM

Blooms are coming, the temperature finally rising and a cherished rite of the spring, summer and fall is once again upon us.

It’s a six-month deal for the professionals, much shorter for youth and high schools. The colleges and developmental leagues — they fall in between.

But no matter the age, baseball still resonates with us. We don’t care about football’s popularity, that it is watched by more people. It doesn’t matter. Baseball is still our nation’s pastime, linked to romance, pop culture and even things we wish it were not.

Baseball isn’t for everyone. Games are not rapid, seeing the major leaguers can be costly and youth long ago quit playing “the big three” — football, basketball and baseball — and instead became more specialized to a particular sport no matter their age.

Amateur organizations can influence like that. There’s little amateur about them in reality. But they provide an outlet, a source to get going in a sport, and for the most part, there is great good within that premise.

But for those who do yearn for the smell of fresh cut grass, pristine white lines on a diamond, for seeing nine on a side handle a round ball hit by a round bat, baseball is the answer. Always has been, always will be.

For the baseball fan, religion and romance and any of the other cliches long associated with the sport do not matter. This fan has appreciation of the unique game. The players come in varying sizes, shapes and abilities, from across many diverse cultural backgrounds, and they play in parks and fields and stadiums that have identity through differences.

We like that, and gravitate toward it.

The Tri-County is blessed. Our youth have opportunities right here, and we all have the chance to see budding professional players nearby. Opening Day festivities were this past weekend for the Carolina Mudcats down N.C. 39, and last night for the Durham Bulls down Interstate 85. Each are less than an hour away, and each will be playing right on through Labor Day.

Baseball, indeed, does mark time for the past. But the game also has a future, a bright one, and we don’t have to go far to see it.