Everyone hopes for them. Prepares for them. Seeks them.
Throughout the course of your life, time is marked by new beginnings. Whether it be something you worked for, such as a new career or new marriage, or something that fell upon you, such as life changes following being laid off of from a job or becoming newly single, how you face those new beginnings define who you become as a person.
People dream of these fresh starts; many people never achieve them.
As baseball fans, they are granted to us every spring.
Hope springs eternal.
Baseball represents life in so many ways. Just as spring represents new life in nature, the same holds true for your favorite team, allowing for the wounds of last year to heal while providing the excitement of annual rebirth; with trades, free agency, and prospects finally having an opportunity to come into bloom.
I have learned more lessons in my life from the game of baseball than from just about anything else. Baseball has given me so much and will continue to do so.
People who get baseball get that statement. Baseball is different than any other game on the planet.
No other sport provides the combination of history, passion, physical skill, and mental toughness of baseball. Nothing comes close.
More than 70 percent of Americans can tell you who Babe Ruth was and he has not played the game in 80 years. How many of you can name a single pro athlete from another sport in 1935? How many of you can even name the President of the United States from that same year?
Baseball is different.
There is a connection that can be found in baseball that exists nowhere else in the world and in comes from a combination of all those things. There is a difference between an athlete and a baseball player. Sure, there are some great athletes on baseball fields, but by no means do all athletes have the capacity to become a baseball player.
The difference is more than just hand-eye coordination.
America’s pastime is a thinking game; guessing pitches, game situations, base coverages, pick off plays, sacrifices, stolen bases, the list is nearly endless, with each element requiring an independent thought process.
This part of the game is passed down from one generation to the next; from fathers to sons, from brother to brother, from coach to player, forming bonds not only to each other, but also to the game itself.
This is why something as simple as a catch with Dad can become one of the great memories of childhood; there is a different aspect to the game that people who have never played just don’t understand.
Things that happened on the field prepared me for life’s successes and failures. Learning that a team is no better than their weakest player prepared me to join the workforce. Working as a coach taught me how to teach in the classroom. The trials and tribulations of being a teammate prepared me for fatherhood.
Baseball molded me into who I am.
Baseball is different.
It's not just the feeling of the cool, green grass under your feet. It's not just the sounds of the game, the chatter coming from each dugout. It's the relationships you build, not only with your teammates, but with the game itself.
Baseball has been there for me all of my life. It was there for me when I was struggling to make friends in a new town as a kid. It was there for me when I was struggling to find my place in college. It was there for me when I lost my job six months before my son was born.
The Rangers World Series run in 2011 helped me survive my divorce. The Rangers injury driven collapse of last season parodied my life as the first meaningful relationship since the divorce came to an end.
Baseball held me together with the loss of my grandmother earlier this year. My family received flowers from the baseball team, the athletic department, the school administration, and the school itself. Four different arrangements, all through relationships formed by baseball.
As we stood to receive guests in the funeral home, I looked up to see familiar faces from baseball. Players, both current and former, coaches, school administration, and even a kid I had cut from the team. Baseball was there.
Baseball has helped shape who I am as a man, teaching me how to work for what I want, how to appropriately handle success and failure, and even helping to mold how I parent.
Today baseball provides its annual fresh start and new beginning, symbolizing so much that is right with the world.
It's opening day. Welcome back, baseball. I missed you.
As we embrace opening day, enjoy the hope that is provided by the new season, understanding the fact that every team, if only for that one day, is even in the standings.
We are hours away from baseball’s 2015 new beginning.
Are you ready for it? How will it mold you?