Football is the only sport that trumps all other sports when it comes to media attention—and the football season is officially over. There are two radio stations that I listen to regularly that are advertised as 24-hour sports stations. Some people who talk about sports are better than others. However, in general, anyone who is hired to talk about any subject 24/7 has to like to listen to themselves, and anyone who listens to sports radio has to love sports.
The general discussion on sports radio has lately centered around the NBA: the All-Star Game, the trade deadline, Carmello Anthony, etc. Football will always be a point of discussion no matter what the season: right now the talk is about the potential NFL lockout and the draft. And hockey is hanging in there because the Wild have been doing well and college and high school playoffs are starting soon. I think professional basketball and hockey both carry their seasons too far into spring for the playoffs to remain relevant to most people. People are ready for spring, and nothing signals spring more than the return of baseball. Just watching those sportcasts from spring training has all of us here in Minnesota yearning for green and warmth.
I have been asked to write a 5,000-word essay for a potential collection of stories about women’s “obsession” with baseball. First, I don’t believe I have ever written 5,000 words on one topic in my life. Second, I do not believe my love of baseball can be called an “obsession.” To me, “obsession” has negative connotations. Webster defines the word as “a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling; broadly: compelling motivation.”
Maybe in broad terms I could be described as obsessed by baseball. However, I prefer to think of my relationship with baseball as a loving passion. As I was thinking about this, I came to the realization that I can compare my feelings about the Twins to my feelings for my family. I love my family. I enjoy spending time with them, I care about their welfare, I am interested in everything that they are doing, I want them to succeed, and I don’t want them to feel disappointment or loss.
In many ways this describes my relationship with the Twins. Baseball has the longest season and the most games of any sport. Fans care so intensely about football because the season is so short: 16 weekly games in the regular season, and only a total of 11 games in the playoffs. This type of intensity cannot be sustained for a sport where every team plays almost every day from the end of February until the beginning of October. Then we start a playoff season that consists of 8 teams playing a best-of-five series, and then two rounds of best-of-seven series. That’s a lot of baseball, spread out over a total of ten months.
The other thing about baseball is that it is a slow game. I’m not complaining, because this means that I have lots of time to get to know these players. Outfielders in particular can really build a relationship with the fans who sit in their proximity. In the Metrodome I spent lots of time studying the left-fielders: Delmon Young, Jason Kubel, and Denard Span in particular. We know that both Torii Hunter and Carlos Gomez developed a relationship with the fans who sat in the center field seats at the Dome. We spent a lot of time together out there waiting for a ball to come our way.
Finally, I think I love baseball because we can talk about it and share our excitement for the games and plays. I don’t think I could spend two minutes describing a play in any other sport, but I can describe how the Twins scored each run in a nine-inning game. And because we grow up with baseball, it is a language that is shared by many and learned by those who hang around with us.
Above is a picture of me with Frank Coglitore, a good friend from work who grew up in New York as a passionate Yankees fan. Frank moved to Minnesota to attend college; he stayed here afterwards and taught accounting, first in Mankato and then at the University of St. Thomas, where we worked together. The Twins were his second-favorite team, and we had lots of fun when the two teams played. Of course, Frank almost always had the upper hand in this rivalry, and he had gentle fun rubbing it in—even arriving at my office one time with a broom to sweep my office after the Twins had been swept by the Yankees. Frank passed away last October in the same week that my Mom died, and I miss sharing the opening of this new season with both of them.
So let the season begin! The Twins’ first game of spring training is, to me, like having the kids come home from college for the summer.