Right now – 7:29 in the morning, January 18 – it is 22 degrees outside, and the sky is a dark slate blue, like the blackboards were when I was a kid in grade school. Bare tree branches outside my window are claw-like, twisted in the cold, and threatening.
It’s mid-winter. There is no denying it. It’s been freezing cold and 75% dark for a long time, and it will continue to be relentlessly cold and way too dark for many weeks. We are in the heart of the beast. Winter. Minnesota. Winter.
And yet, somehow, here, right here, there’s a broad aromatic field of deep green grass, and a small mound of dirt, and an endless clear dome of blue summer sky. Right here. Just over my desk. A few thin wisps of clouds, perhaps. Just passing through.
Because for some of us, there’s no such thing as “the off-season.” Baseball is a year-round thing. I’m not sure why this is, or how this happens. Why baseball? Why me? Maybe I’ll figure that out sometime. Maybe here. Maybe this year.
A friend of mine has taken on a project – a Year of Dickens. He plans on reading six Dickens novels, one every other month in 2013, (currently 400+ pages into David Copperfield) and I suggested that he keep a journal about the year. We kicked around a few ideas, as we do — dressing in 18th century British garb, reviving the old sayings, teaching his girls deportment, eating puddings, and such — and developed so much enthusiasm for the project (in that brief ten minute exchange) that I said I wished I was doing something similar. There must be some sort of psychological profile for people who take on weird, year-long projects. We talked about a few other possible writers. Laurence Stern, my friend suggested helpfully. Well, no. Someone else. Philip Roth? Hemingway?
Mentioning Roth reminded me of his Great American Novel, and it suddenly occurred to me that, instead of a particular author, I could do a year of baseball. I have a number of favorite baseball books, fiction and nonfiction, that I could re-read and discuss, along with baseball movies, baseball history, baseball theory. There’s the real season ahead, looming, for the now hapless Twins. The baseball field is rich with material, more than enough to pursue for a year. Plus, it wouldn’t seem like work. It’s baseball!
I feel a bit guilty calling the site A Year of Baseball, and not starting on January 1. But I’ll get over that. I’m also somewhat concerned that I’m not up to this task. I am not a former ball player (except as a kid on the street corner), nor a sabermatrician, nor a clever and careful writer. And I have a habit of sticking with things longer than I rightfully should. But – what the hell – I think this will be fun to try, and perhaps the game will elevate me. I’ll aim for entertainment and light reading, because I’m fairly certain that I’m not going to be super informative.
And, should this go terribly terribly wrong, well, there’s always the delete button.