Play Ball!

Play Ball!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Being a sports fanatic has its good times and bad, and I for one have probably had more lows than highs, but I dont know if there is any better time than Opening Day in Major League Baseball. Ive often wondered if I would feel the same way if I lived in say, southern California. Part of the allure of the beginning of the baseball season is that it tells us that the long winter is over. Im not sure if the long winter endured by the inhabitants of Los Angeles has them longing for re-birth. That endless string of seventy degree days must be a grind! But in the Midwest, and the east coast where I was born, the beginning of the season has more significance and meaning. Opening Day is a starters gun that signifies that its time to go back outside again. Being cooped up in the house can drive you nuts. (Especially if youve been watching too many Bulls games!) The arrival of the boys of summer means that it cant be too far behind.

People always ask me which sport is my favorite. If theyre asking about the four majors and golf, I dont know if I could say that I care for one a whole lot more than the others. I have an affinity for each one. They all bring up different memories and connections. Baseball though, has probably been around the longest. It for me, as well as just about everyone else, is a memory of childhood. Being as old as I am, I did not grow up (some say still havent) with ipods, Wiis and computers. (Did have the Atari Pong though!) What we did in my neighborhood was play sports outside at the park down the street from the time we got up until we were forced to come in. When we started playing baseball, it meant two things: It was nice out and school was almost over! (Go figure I loved it so much!) As I got older, I was able to play in little league. Getting my first uniform is something I remember to this day. ( No. 3? Dad-Same as Babe Ruth. Me- Whos that?) The parade at the beginning of the season was the social event of the year for any kid under twelve. The league I played in had announcers for every game and a scoreboard that electronically showed balls and strikes. That was known as state-of-the-art for the late sixties. Not to mention the concession stand had the best hot dogs and french fries I ever remember. Mom always loved the mustard stains on the uniform pants. Those times to me were like a Rockwell painting, forging the foundation of my love for the game, on every level.

The thrill of Opening Day has never waned. More than any sport, the beginning of baseball signifies more than a season to be played. Its about the summer to come and the summers that have passed. Its more than games. Its the sounds, the smells and the feel. No matter how many times the team that I love breaks my heart, (sound familiar?) I cant wait to come back for more. To be able to watch on TV, go to a game or to just follow my rotisserie team with a zeal that borders on psychotic, is all I need. Baseball is that friend that will be there everyday, with so many stories to tell, some good, some bad, but all worth knowing. Baseball will be the soundtrack of my summer, the background noise of my life for the next six months and if Im lucky, a little longer than that.

Bastian Schweinsteiger happy with Manchester United's Europa League win

Bastian Schweinsteiger happy with Manchester United's Europa League win

Bastian Schweinsteiger's time with Manchester United wound down with him being essentially frozen out of the team for an extended period, but he was still happy to see his former teammates win a European trophy on Wednesday.

Man U beat Ajax 2-0 to win the Europa League final in Stockholm. The win sealed a berth in next year's Champions League for the Red Devils.

Despite the way Schweinsteiger's tenure in England ended, the German midfielder has still said positive things about the club since leaving for the Chicago Fire in March. He tweeted out a good luck message to the team ahead of the final.

Paul Pogba scored in the first half and Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored in the second half to seal United's win and the trophy to end a season that included a sixth-place finish in the Premier League.

Schweinsteiger didn't play in any Premier League matches this season, but his last appearance for the Manchester club was as a subtitute in the Europa League round of 32 at French club Saint-Etienne.

Training with the Fire on Wednesday kept him from watching the whole final, but he said he did watch what he could.

“I’m happy for United," Schweinsteiger said after the Fire's 2-1 win against Dallas. "I’m happy for them. They are a good team and I’m happy they can play in Champions League next year.”

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