Standing up from my desk in the Daily News office, I was getting ready to go home for the day on Thursday. I had an hour drive ahead of me back to Mount Pleasant and was wondering what I could listen to on the way home.
“The Killers?” College fight songs? The soundtrack for “Hamilton?” Possibly find a college basketball conference tournament game to listen to? You see how indecisive I am.
I was working on packing up my gear when Sports Editor Alex Freeman spoke the words that I had not only been waiting to hear — but it helped me decide what I was going to listen to on the way home:
“You see the MLB reached a deal?” Alex asked me.
At first, I thought we were talking about the deal between the MLB owners and the MLB Players Association to ban the shift or to hold off writing the guidelines for the International Draft until July.
Nope, we were talking about the two negotiating sides reaching a collective bargaining agreement — ending the MLB work stoppage after 99 days.
“Dude, no way — that makes me so happy!” I said. I searched on The Athletic and found a live podcast talking about the return of baseball and what was going to happen next.
Just talking about actually playing baseball made Thursday an even better day. There is something about the game that makes the stone I (jokingly) call a heart feel something special — pure joy.
No, my favorite team wasn’t any good in the second half last season. But when my Chicago Cubs open on April 7 against Milwaukee, there will be a smile on my face and a memory in my mind, because baseball is back. Even when the Detroit Tigers open the next day against the Chicago White Sox, there will be a happy memory watching the game at Comerica Park.
Baseball returning is more than just the games and the season starting up again — it runs a bit deeper than that.
I’ve dealt with quite a bit, personally speaking, in the last year — two years, really. A couple of breakups that have left my heart in pieces that will take a long, long time to repair, financial issues that could resolve themselves, if I’d only listen to my mom, and — quite possibly the biggest hit of them all — putting one of my two best pup friends down, knowing the second is an all-too-soon and even more brutal eventuality.
Yes, I know I have to deal with these real-life circumstances — don’t worry. The return of baseball just helps take my mind off the difficult times I’ve endured over the offseason, if only for a few hours.
The game brings excitement and a lot of fun times and memories for players and fans at all levels of the game. The Daily News will bring you stories this summer from the West Michigan Whitecaps and some cool stories from around baseball.
My summer will be spent watching, listening, talking, writing, eating, breathing baseball. Hearing the ball crack the bat will be exciting for the ears, the slap of the mitt will be exhilarating for the heart and the sight of the field will be cleansing for the soul in a time when we need just a little extra happiness.
As irony would have it, my mom and I were discussing plans for a trip she and my father are taking this summer. While we were on the phone and discussing that Chicago would be part of the itinerary, I was already looking up the Cubs’ schedule to see if there was even a chance they would be playing.
Yes, yes they are. Of course, we’re going as a family. For the three hours on the day we go to Chicago, all of my misfortune of the last two years will be washed away with overpriced beers, repaired with ice cream and, hopefully, changed by flying my W flag after a Cubs win.
That would be pretty sweet, wouldn’t it? I’ll see you soon, Wrigley.