Everyone has one. For some, it might be a hot apple pie, or fresh fallen rain. Maybe it's Grandma's house, a perfume, or a brand new car. Not me. For me, it's stale beer, pine tar, dry roasted peanuts, hotdogs and chewing tobacco. Put them all in a pot and let them simmer on the stove. Let the smells of each intertwine and weave themselves together into an aromatic tapestry. The aromas, when all brought together, create the most perfect potpourri that I can think of. Close your eyes and try to imagine. Allow your mind to drown your sense of smell and breathe it in. Inhale deeply and slowly. Can you smell it? Can you almost taste it? That's the smell of baseball!
Every year, right around this time, I start to get a little antsy. Pitchers and catchers will be reporting to camp soon. Followed by the position players not too long after. It's just around the corner... and I can almost smell it!
You see, baseball is the game that I fell in love with at the age of 4. My earliest childhood memories involve baseball. It all began with watching my Dad. He would sit in the garage (pretending to be working on some project) and listen to Jack Buck narrate the action through the transistor radio that sat on his workbench. Telling the story of the game as if he was reading some classic Walt Whitman poem. I could see the happiness and excitement in my Dad's eyes. The anticipation of every pitch. The glow on his face as my Dad soaked in every minute of every game. Every night, Jack Buck was orating his modern version of "Leaves of Grass", and baseball fans listened.
It was baseball. Nevermind the fact that it was St. Louis Cardinal's baseball for a moment. For the purest of baseball fans... it doesn't matter who it is. Baseball fans know exactly what I'm speaking of. It IS BASEBALL! Everyone remembers walking into the baseball park for the very first time. For me, it was like entering the great Roman Coliseum. There I stood with my Dad and my little brother. Standing at the end of the the long dark tunnel at Busch Stadium, looking down on the field as if it were filled with the greatest Gladiators of all time! And the smell.......oooooooh.......... that smell!!! It was fantastic!!!
It doesn't matter who your favorite team is, or who your favorite player is. It doesn't matter if you are in first place or last place. The only thing that matters is that the game is there for all of us to enjoy. Cards fans and Cubs fans, Yankee fans and Red Sox fans. We may protest our disdain for one another's teams each year, but the truth is, we are all in the same brotherhood. We are all guilty of being in love with the same mistress. We're all in love with baseball.
It won't be long. It's just around the corner... and I can hardly wait!!!
Can you smell it?