Looking to spring as fall dawns and baseball dies
ROME, Ga., Aug. 27 - Here it comes. The feeling of emptiness. The loneliness. The sense of loss.
It must be fall. Baseball must be ending.
Yes, there is another month in the major league season. Yes, the World Series is still weeks away. But sitting here on a beautiful late summer evening during the Rome Braves' final homestand of the year, one can sense the end is near.
Summer is over. And with it the national game will pass into its winter slumber. Leaving us, as Bart Giamatti once wrote, when we need it most.
That the Braves won tonight, 6-1 over the beautifully-named Augusta GreenJackets, is of little consequence. The big dance is almost over. And my date is leaving with another suitor --- that crazy old man called Autumn.
Actually, the thought of fall is appealing this year. The heat has been unbearable this summer. Gas prices are going through the roof. What better excuse than thoughts of the approaching winter chill to keep folks at home and not burning fuel and rubber on the highway.
Plus it's time to head to the gridiron. Are you ready for some football?
The NCAA season gets underway this Thursday night. The Ol' Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier, makes his debut as the South Carolina Gamecocks' general on ESPN. Major college teams see action on Saturday. The NFL kickoff is only a couple of weeks away.
There is solace in that. Especially here on Rocky Top.
And yet it isn't the same. The manic concentration of action that is football leaves no time to talk to one's neighbor during the contest. No chance to watch the right fielder move into position just as the pitcher throws home. No score to keep from your seat. It's all there in neon in front of you.
So while one looks with anticipation toward the thoughts of lazy Saturday fall afternoons watching four or five football games in succession on TV (even Kentucky v. Vanderbilt is an attractive thought at this point, if for no other reason than to thank God you were born in Knoxville), my thoughts turn already to spring. To rebirth. To the time when the earth awakens from its slumber.
It is this promise of spring that will get you through --- after the National Championship is played and the Super Bowl is over and March Madness is but a blip on the radar screen.
Like the April rains, baseball will return again to feed the soul. As much as one hates to see it go, were it with us year round, it would lose its special place in fans' hearts.
The anticipation is half the fun.