There is no sweeter sound than the echoing crack of lumber striking baseball on the sweet spot of the barrel, followed by the buzz and then roar of thousands of people standing, then swooning, then screaming...unless of course you are a pitcher.
For the oddballs that often take the mound with all eyes on them, a sound of "swoosh" and "thud" is what they crave. The rushing wind off the sails of a flailing bat creates the faintest noise that is matched in perfect harmony by the dull smacking sound of the ball slamming its way into the catcher's leather mitt.
So with all that going on, what is the rush?
I've been keeping up with the Spring Training happenings as much as anyone and a phenomenon surrounding the new instant replay rules has got me thinking about the essence of the game of baseball.
Why is time the number one concern for many on this issue?
This isn't the NFL where clock management can be more important than personnel under the right circumstances. This isn't the NBA where pace, flow, and endurance are primary factors in how the game is played. There is no clock in baseball. And I, for one, quite like it that way.
Nobody likes long delays, waiting in line, or going to the bank or DMV, I get that. But to those who argue that baseball already takes too long and these new delays are exacerbating a mortal flaw, I have to ask: what is the hurry?
If your life is too busy to watch a three hour baseball game I understand that, but not everything needs to compromise to the needs of the masses. If you've only got time for short movies and NFL games, then by all means enjoy those things, but don't try to change the game of baseball to fit it into your schedule.
If you care enough about baseball that you want to watch it - so much so that you will actively campaign to have it be more convenient for you - then you can get a DVR and record the game and skip through all the stuff you find boring rather than changing the nature of the game to fit your needs. The rest of us like it the way it is and may in general prefer a more leisurely pace.
Not everything needs to be quick, efficient, and convenient. Rushing through a baseball game reminds me of an old Norm McDonald joke about Olympic combination events and his favorite being the one where "you run a hundred yard dash, and then you fish."
Baseball requires patience of just about everyone involved in the process and lately I feel like it's being dictated to by people who have none.
This game needs space, and leisure, and time for the sounds and the strategy and the tension and the situations to marinate in cool spring air and under a scorching summer sun. Baseball needs time to breathe.
Baseball marks the seasons. It's sounds and smells hearken back to a time when we weren't all in a hurry to get from one task to the next, constantly plugged into the "cloud" with a myriad of time wasting distractions constantly at our disposal whenever we chose.
The crunch of cleat on grass, the scrape of wool and skin sliding against the dirt, the serenity of baseball organ music, and the roar of the umpire, mix in the atmosphere with the smell of hot dogs and beer and peanuts and a leather ball or glove -- and that clanking sound wooden bats make against each other as one is carefully selected and removed from the bunch -- to create an opera of perfection that would be both new and familiar to my father and his father and all who have ever watched this game.
In other words, baseball is timeless.