For once, it felt good to feel normal again.
It felt good to forget about what was happening throughout our country. It felt good to not have everything in life dictated by a damn virus. It felt good to see the invisible enemy being rendered irrelevant.
These past five months have been agonizing. Lives have been lost. Jobs and been lost. Hope has been lost. But through all of that, like a weed sprouting in the crack of a blacktopped parking lot, joy emerged. It emerged in the form of baseball.
When the Rangers took the field in the top of the first inning, suddenly it felt like summers past. Cheerful. Carefree. For two hours and fifty-seven minutes, the horrible awful relentless frustrating pain of 2020 went away. This isn’t to diminish the real pain and suffering American have felt and are feeling. Loved ones have died from this virus. But it is to say, you win when you overcome. And watching the Rangers, and every other team, play baseball in 2020 helped create a much-needed escape.
Masks and social distancing and sheltering in place and everything else unimaginable back when the Washington Nationals danced for joy just a brief October ago took a back stage to balls and strikes and anything else.
The Rangers won 1-0. Legendary Cincinnati Reds broadcaster Joe Nuxhall used to say after every opening day Reds win, “You can’t win them all if you don’t win the first one.”
Today made me think about Joe Nuxhall. It made me think about the day I fell in love with baseball. It made me think about having to adopt an inferior American League team with its stupid DH rule because I moved my family to Dallas. It made me think about the thousands of Rangers games I took my five daughters to, and how they are all now lifelong baseball fans. It made me think about my Mom going to every baseball game I ever played in even though I rarely played in any of those games and how she never once told me the truth that I sucked at baseball. It made me think about all those days alone in the back yard I spent tossing a ball in the air and hitting it and then running after it and hitting it back. It made me think about throwing a baseball against a brick wall for hours at a time and hitting one certain brick over and over and thinking to myself that I might be the next Tom Seaver. It made me think about the friends I have made on this site who I talk to almost daily but have never met but who are some of the closest, truest friends in my life. It made me think about everything I love about baseball. It made me, I’m not ashamed to say, cry.
What it didn’t make me think about was everything else.
People say this truncated baseball season doesn’t mean anything. After last night, I respectfully disagree.
All things considered, this may be the most important baseball season ever.
Jon Gray vs. Mike Minor
Game time: 3:05 on FSWW, 105.3 FM, KFLC in Spanish