The Detroit Tigers officially begin their quest for their first division title since 1987 today, as pitchers and catchers take to the fields at Joker Marchant Stadium at 10 am this morning for the first workout of the 2010 season.
There are some that have yet to arrive. New closer Jose Valverde won’t be in camp until tomorrow, catchers Gerald Laird and Max St. Pierre will arrive sometime over the weekend as well. But, the vast majority of the group vying for a spot on this year’s club have arrived, and they begin their season today.
With the first sounds of balls hitting mitts, the winter is leaving us. Sure, back here in the north it’s still frigidly cold. Snow still stands in heaping piles, either where it has drifted or wherever it was piled up when we shoveled out of our driveways. But all across Arizona and Florida, baseball is beginning anew. In Lakeland, the Tigers have returned.
The sounds of Spring will wash away memories of the shoveling for now, the snow melts in our heads. The painful memories of the end of an exciting 2009 season will drift away with each passing day, for Spring Training has arrived.
So as we wait for news about Johnny Damon, or search for whatever images come from Lakeland, we can all rest easy that in a mere six weeks, opening day will be upon us. One of my personal rituals each Spring is to re-watch a few old baseball movies, it sort of help to set the mind toward the season. Here are a quick couple of quotes to get you all ready, as well. I’m sure you already know them by heart.
Terrance Mann’s (James Earl Jones) baseball speech from Field of Dreams:
"Ray, people will come, Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway, not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. “Of course, we won’t mind if you have a look around,” you’ll say. “It’s only twenty dollars per person.” They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it; for it is money they have and peace they lack.And they’ll walk out to the bleachers, and sit in shirt-sleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game, and it’ll be as if they’d dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick, they’ll have to brush them away from their faces.People will come, Ray.The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again. Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come."
Crash Davis’ (Kevin Costner) “I believe” speech from Bull Durham:
"I believe in the soul, the cock, the pussy, the small of a woman’s back, the hanging curve ball, high fiber, good scotch, long foreplay, show tunes, and that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap. I believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, I believe that there oughtta be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astro-turf and the designated hitter, I believe in the ‘sweet spot,’ voting every election, soft core pornography, chocolate chip cookies, opening your presents on Christmas morning rather than Christmas eve, and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days."
Buck Weaver (John Cusak) in Eight Men Out:
"I still get such a bang out of it, playing ball. Same as I did when I first come up. You get out there and the stands are full and everybody is cheering. It is like everybody in the world came to see you. Inside that there is the players in there and they’re yakking it up and the pitcher throws and your looking for that pill and suddenly there is nothing else in the ballpark but you and it and sometimes when your feeling right and there is a groove there and the bat just eases into it and meets that ball. When the bat meets that ball you can feel that ball just give and you know it is going to go a long way. Damn, if you don’t feel like your going to live forever."
And a couple more classic lines:
"There are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary. And there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I learned that, I gave Jesus a chance. -Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon) Bull DurhamAhh, Jesus, I like him very much, but He no help with curveball.” – Pedro Serrano (Dennis Haysbert) Major League"