Living on a sub-tropical island has its perks.
One of them is the incredible weather.
For instance, it was in the eighties just last week, and as I write this it is a beautiful spring day with the azaleas all in bloom.
I can feel the Masters, March Madness, Spring Football, and the NFL Draft right around the corner. It gets me giddy like a 12-year-old schoolgirl just thinking about it.
But there is one thing that a beautiful, spring day makes me think of more than anything else:
Football may be my religion. Baseball is my love.
In a little over a week, players from all over the world will be gathering en masse, if they have not started to already, at various facilities in Arizona and Florida to begin the true mark of the season, Spring Training.
In my mind, there is nothing like baseball. The sights, sounds, smells. Fresh cut grass. The thwack of the bat. The smell of dirt and leather. The sun beaming down upon you reminding hearts frozen from a weary winter that the boys of summer are here again to take away all those cold, dark winter nights.
You can almost feel the ball in your hands as the spring approaches, because, after all, baseball is the only major sport that almost every average man can see himself playing.
These men are not behemoths. They do not bench press 300 pounds and squat 600. No, these are David Wells, Todd Jones, Greg Maddux.
These are you and me.
Sure they are much more talented, but if you walked by them at the store you might not immediately realize they are athletes.
Growing up in Atlanta I remember going to Braves games in the eighties where we would buy the really cheap tickets and then make our way down to dugout level because there was no one at the game.
Those days are gone now in Atlanta. There is a new stadium. Tougher ushers. More fans. But there is one thing that hasn't changed.
From the greatest starting rotation of our generation for much of the nineties, with the three legends—Smoltz, Glavine, and Maddux—mixed with many incredible pitchers in their own right, such as Avery and Millwood, time has moved on.
Now Smoltz is the elder ace. Glavine is returning, looking to turn back the sun on one more glorious season at home. Maddux is no longer in the city where he will always be remembered for the most incredible four year stretch of pitching in our time. But the Braves now have Hudson and a stable of young arms and it is spring, time to start anew.
It will be an interesting season for Atlanta.
It will be an interesting season for most teams. Even perenial cellar dwellers love the spring.
Teams like Kansas City, Washington, and Tampa Bay.
This is the spring.
The time when hope and everything the mind can imagine is still possible.
The time when love seems to greet you around every corner. The time when the grass, the sun, the dirt, the leather, the hot dogs, and the ice cold beer make you just want to smile and thank god you are alive.
This is the spring.
This is baseball.
This is love.