March Madness This Weekend, But Baseball Forever!
Tonight I’ll be in beautiful AutoZone Park in downtown Memphis to watch my beloved St. Louis Cardinals play my beloved Memphis Redbirds. (They are really the same team.)
At the same time, my beloved Tennessee Gentlemen Vols will be playing the Michigan Wolverines in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. (My beloved Lady Vols play in the NCAA Women’s Sweet Sixteen Sunday night.)
I’ll be forced to engage in March Madness multitasking, as I will be watching the Cardinals and Redbirds on the beautiful AutoZone Park diamond, and then occasionally dashing into the AutoZone Park club level to catch the Gentlemen Vols on TV.
I truly wish they weren’t playing at the same time. Basketball and baseball do not go together, any more than football and baseball go together. It’s like mixing a large can of Red Bull and a fine glass of Merlot.
I’m a sports fanatic who is positively addicted to baseball, football and basketball. But I have a decidedly different attitude toward baseball than I do for football or basketball.
I have a love-hate relationship with football and basketball. I have a love-love relationship with baseball.
I’ve spent many miserable days at a football stadium and many miserable nights in a basketball arena. But I have never had a bad day or a bad night at a baseball park.
Football and basketball make me a nervous wreck.
Baseball gives me peace and happiness.
Football terrifies me with sudden death overtimes. Baseball relaxes me with extra innings.
Basketball has a shot clock. Baseball has. . .no clock!
At many football and basketball games I stand for the entire game, nervously jumping up and down and screaming. At a baseball game, I generally stand only for the 7th inning stretch.
I am usually able to avoid sports schizophrenia by the fact that football, basketball, and baseball each have their own separate seasons. As is written in Ecclesiales 3, to everything there is a season. There is a time to punt and a time to bunt.
I start off each year as an uptight basketball fan and end the year as a neurotic football fanatic. But between the ice and snow of winter and chilled winds of fall comes the warmth of spring and the hot, sunny days and nights of baseball.
And it is during baseball season that I truly am a happy and contented person.
While I have no medical proof of this, I am absolutely convinced that my heart rate slows when I am watching a baseball game. I am also convinced that my blood pressure falls.
Some of — in fact most of — the happiest days of my life have been spent sitting in a ball park, enjoying a hotdog and a cold one, while savoring the wonderfully slow pace of balls, strikes, walks, hits, fielding and errors.
Not to get theological, but I want my life to be like baseball, not football or basketball. I don’t want terrifying moments, and I certainly don’t want sudden death. I want a long, slowly evolving, slowing changing life, shared on warm spring days or hot summer nights with people I love. I want home runs, but I also want walks.
And so tonight, I will experience both March Madness and Spring Sanity. It will be a challenging blend.
But in a couple of weeks, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat of March Madness will be over. I will have enjoyed the one shining moment, but I’ll not be sorry to see it end
In a few months I will sit in Neyland Stadium in Knoxville with over a hundred thousand other neurotic folks, agonizing in the hope and prayer that perhaps my Volunteers can somehow find a way to beat Nick Satan and the evil Alabama Crimson Tide.
But from April through September, baseball will have my undivided attention. Yes, I’ll be cheering every day for the Cardinals and Redbirds to win. And as I always sing during the 7th inning, if they don’t win, it’s a shame. But I won’t leave the ballpark upset or angry. I’ll be happy knowing the sun will rise tomorrow morning, and there will be another game to play.