Baseball is Around the Corner
By Tamar Chalker
February 8, 2023
Whenever I have a chance to get down to Connecticut or New York, I always find it refreshing to be surrounded by Yankees fans. My family moved to New Hampshire when I was in middle school and I’ve spent very little of my time since then in Yankees’ country. I get stupidly excited when I notice more than one Yankees hat around me.
It’s not just that I am not surrounded by fellow fans, but I’m specifically surrounded by die-hard Red Sox fans. So many Red Sox fans. We’ve had our ups and downs over the years. I loved taunting them with Aaron Boone’s 2003 homer - then something happened the next year that I had to hear a lot about, but I’m fuzzy on the details… I’ve listened to them complain about that “cheater A-Rod” while they cheer on David Ortiz’s selection to the HOF. I’ve seen them act like they are still underdogs even though they’ve had a solid run in this century.
Right now, however, I’m enjoying being excited for the upcoming season. The Yankees locked up Aaron Judge, DJ LeMahieu sounds like he is on the mend, Anthony Volpe, Jasson Dominguez, and others are ready and waiting for their chance to prove themselves in the Big Leagues. There should be solid pitching in the Bronx this year - and we won’t have to hold our breath waiting to see if Aroldis Chapman’s fastball is working or if he’s going to serve up some fat sliders to the opposition.
The nice thing about Vermont (and I’m not one to say there is much nice about Vermont - especially in the dead of winter, but I’m stuck here for a bit, so I’m looking for the silver linings) is we do get a lot of people from all around the country. My local pub, where you can usually find me talking trash with my Red Sox fan friends, has a tendency to attract people traveling through or in the process of relocating. Last night, as I was headed home to write this piece - or was discussing that I didn’t know what I was going to write about - I ended up having a great conversation with a fellow patron about baseball.
I love the moment where you have two baseball fans sizing each other up. We started chatting after he heard me talking about how the Orioles were going to be pretty good this year. It turned out that this man is a Cardinals fan and when he heard I was a Yankees fan his immediate reaction was, “You guys have an exciting centerfielder this year, don’t sleep on him!” It was great listening to him talk about Harrison Bader. He was genuinely excited about Bader as a player and you could tell he was disappointed not to be able to see him continue with St. Louis, but he was happy Bader landed in a place where he could thrive. Likewise, I told him that it had been hard to part with Jordan Montgomery, but I was happy he landed with a good team where I think he will do well.
One of the things the Cards fan was talking about was how athletic Bader was, but also that he has that quality where you can tell he is having fun and loves to play the game. I said he reminds me of a Nick Swisher type - and I feel like having him and Anthony Rizzo makes for some great team energy and chemistry. Honestly, if you gave me a choice between someone like that and a Bryce Harper type - I don’t know that I’d take Harper, but that’s just me.
So, as this season starts there are a lot of storylines worth watching. Will Judge put together another monster season? Will LeMahieu rebound? Will Anthony Volpe make an impact? I’m excited for all of those and for seeing how Harrison Bader does in his first full season in pinstripes. I hope he lives up to the hype, but no matter what, I hope his infectious joy of the game spreads throughout the clubhouse.