The Phillies Are Back!
I was stopped at a red light, on my way to the grocery store Saturday, idly flipping through the presets on my car radio. That’s when I heard it: a male voice, leisurely, relaxed, almost offhanded, saying, “That makes the count oh-and-two.”
I felt a rush of joy so intense that I laughed, alone in my car. What had been, moments before, a dreary, chore-filled weekend day was now suddenly a threshold, the stepping-off point for a new season. There behind me lay winter, chilly and grim and gray, and before me, stretching wide and warm, was summer and all its pleasures. Root vegetables abruptly gave way to curls of mesclun; scratchy wool was replaced by filmy cotton. The days of early dark were done with; twilights would now stretch infinitely slowly into starry darkness pocked with fireworks. Banish the stewpot; break out the grill!
More than three decades after my life stopped running on a scholastic calendar, I still feel summer means freedom, a farewell to duties and an invitation to play. I love football, and I adore basketball. I’ve learned to enjoy soccer. But only baseball has this age-old connection to summers past—to mowing the backyard while Whitey calls Michael Jack’s homers, to washing the car while Harry K. natters about bad calls. To smuggling beers into Vet Stadium in a false-bottomed picnic basket with the guy who would become my husband; to watching with my dad while the Phils blow yet another September lead.
I don’t know why a team that’s let me down as much as this one should automatically make me smile the first time I hear them for the season. I only know that they do. When I come out of the grocery store and drive away, the game’s still going. There’s no rush. Baseball’s a slow game. It’s only the sixth inning, and not even the official preseason yet. Summer’s just begun.