“For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.”
~Song of Solomon 2:11, as quoted by Ernie Harwell at the beginning of Tiger Baseball.
Seattle winters are the longest. They’re not the coldest or the hardest. There’s no blizzards or sub zero days that make faces red and sting. They’re not masterpieces of survival. They’re staring contests, uncomfortable silences, lunch with strangers, slow elevator rides, gray waiting rooms. In other words, they’re the same as everywhere else, just longer.
It’s these long wet winters that hold the broken heart of yet another losing season. Now, here it is almost springtime where hope bursts eternal. Stiff mitts wait to be oiled, hat brims to be bent, mended hearts to be broken all over again.
The problem with baseball is the problem with love: so much of it can be memory, history, regret, what might have been. It begins in promise and ends in loss. We cheer on those 50th anniversaries the same way we cheer on other teams in the Fall Classic – if we can’t do it, at least it can be done.
Truly, this is a bad way to start the season. In matters of the heart it’s like dating the best friend of the girl you like. Where is the reservoir of optimism the Cubs fan drinks from year after year? What makes a Pirates fan’s heart beat on? I can’t answer those questions, besides they’re National League teams. Here in the Pacific Northwest though, perched on the muddy of the Puget Sound where the sky matches the water which matches the clouds baseball is like the sea and its irresistible call. It gets in the blood and though fraught with perils and with all evidence pointing toward the contrary always seems worth the risk. Much like love, in baseball most of the time you lose, but when you win, you really win.
The photo is from the wonderful archive at MOHAI, Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry.