Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Quest For Peace Begins Anew

Although the weatherman is forecasting day-time temperatures that might seem better suited for the NFL playoffs than Opening Day, this afternoon the Yankees shall kick off (see the clever way I worked in the football stuff again?) the 2011 season against the Detroit Tigers at the House That George Built in the Bronx.  Even if the weather warms up to be a tad more temperate than it has been in these parts the past several days, Mother Nature just might decide to throw a bit of precipitation into the mix.  Sort of her way of reminding the Silver Spoon Twins that Daddy might have left them a shiny toy to play with, but she is the one very much in charge of all things atmospheric.

While I shall not be at the Stadium this afternoon, I hope that today's game and every Opening Day in every ballpark around the Major Leagues goes off without a hitch.  There is something inherently optimistic about Opening Day.  It is a day after all of new beginnings and with them untold possibilities.  We forget perhaps on occasion that every player who is known and recognized throughout baseball presently for his achievements - whether Big Papi in Boston or Derek Jeter in New York - is someone who is NOW known for what he has accomplished.  Once upon a lifetime ago, he was just a rookie with a dream.  A kid perhaps about whom much was known and had already been written or - then again - simply a name in the program and on a child's scorecard.  The most unknown of all quantities.  The journey that carried him here did not begin here after all.  It began there. 

And on Opening Day, you just might be lucky enough to be catching a kid whose own road is just starting to open up before him.  Or perhaps you are lucky enough to see a guy whose star once burned brightly and who now views the beginning of a brand new season as the dawning of a brand new day for him.  A guy who has been down the road a time or two and whose experiences have left him with a lifetime worth of memories and skin as tough as the cover of a properly scuffed game ball.  For him, Opening Day might not be the first act of a play that shall run unencumbered for years to come.  Rather, it might be the last act of a show on its last legs or something close to it that has had a bit of life breathed into it by the crispness of the air and the electricity found within it.

Not once in the rather compressed amount of time that Dad and I occupied space together here on the Big Blue Marble did we attend a baseball game together.  No need to cue the violins.  It is information I report without passion or regret.  It simply is what it is.  If you wish to strike a mournful chord over it, then please do it somewhere else.  Nobody truly mourns a lie.  Nor should they.  During our lifetime together there were countless things that we never did together.  Going to a baseball game is just a number on that list - although we saw enough New York Rangers games at MSG together to fill in the gap.

In my ceaseless quest to not become my father, I have jumped at every chance I have had to take in a ball game with Rob.  His first trip to Yankee Stadium was in 1996 - on Fan Appreciation Day.  A scrawny kid shortstop named Jeter beat the Red Sox in extra innings with an RBI single.  We were together at the Stadium for Ted Lilly's debut vs. the Sox on the Sunday of 61* weekend.  The first anniversary of 09/11 was spent watching the Yankees and the O's play.  Ronan Tynan sang God Bless America and the Yankees unveiled the 09/11 monument in Monument Park.  A few years ago when he was still in college, I bought him a partial season ticket plan.  It was the final season in the "old" Stadium.  Big spender I am - I bought him two seats in the left-field bleachers.  One of his games was a mid-week affair in April - Yankees vs. Red Sox. He and I spent a seasonably chilly April night in the bleachers enjoying the game together. 

A few months later, Rob migrated first south and then west to begin the full-time adult portion of his life.  In the Summer of '09 he was home for a week.  We took in our first game at the "new" Stadium together - watching Andy Pettitte hurl a gem against the Mariners.  I have not been back to the Stadium since.  No real reason why not.  Hopefully sooner rather than later, Rob's work will bring him east again and with it the chance for us to make the occasional trip or three to the Stadium.  One never knows. 

And therein lies the beauty of this day - of Opening Day.  One never knows what a season holds with any more certainty than one knows what it is life has in store for us at any particular moment in time.  Today, we begin anew our quest for peace - our search for calm in a world of tumult.  It is for that reason that people will come.....

....and we most certainly will continue to do so


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