It snowed last night in Utah. It snowed about 3″. That’s not really a lot. And it was “lake effect” snow. That means it was very light and powdery. My kids shoveled the driveway this morning and I took time at lunch to shovel the sidewalk.
But, even with the freezing temperatures and the new snow, the warmth of Spring filled my soul today. See, about 600 miles South in Peoria, Arizona nine men dressed in Mariners blue took the field against nine men dressed in Oakland A’s green.
Well, I assume they were wearing those colors. I didn’t actually see the game, the first one of Spring. Instead I listened to it over the internet. I didn’t get to hear the entire game. I missed Ichiro’s first hit of the Spring. At 45 years old, he’s trying to do what few have been able to do, continue to play professional baseball into his late 40’s.
But, then Ichiro has done a lot of things that few others have.
Today isn’t the start of the season, of course. The fact that Seattle won 8-1 doesn’t mean a thing. Managers are trying out players and pitchers. Winning isn’t nearly as important as evaluating the players during Spring Training.
Official Opening Day is scheduled for March 28 against the same Oakland A’s that Seattle faced today. The game will be played in Toyko, Japan. That helps explain Ichiro’s interest in making this years’s roster. He wants to take the field, possibly for the last time, in front of his native country.
Ichiro is an anomoly on this year’s Mariners team. Last year, the team made a strong push for the playoffs. They missed out, although they did finish with a winning record at 89-73. However, when the season ended and the Mariners found themselves on the outside looking in, they started a youth movement. The team traded their veteran players for other teams’ rookies and prospects.
The team will be terrible this year. The management knows it. The fans know it. Even the players know it, although in interviews they give all the right answers. Youth movements take time to develop. But, Ichiro is old. He’s talked about playing until he’s 50. If anyone could it would be him. And as a Mariner’s fan, he’s one of the bright spots on a roster full of unknowns.
Today for just an hour I immersed myself in the sounds of the game I love. The voice of the announcers haven’t lost a step since last fall. I could smell the grass under the Arizon skies. The crack of the bat, the sounds of the crowd warmed my tiny office in Pleasant Grove, Utah.
Despite the snow and ice, Spring is coming. In Arizona, it’s already here.
Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.
(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved