Green Fields (Guest Essay from E.L. Danvers)
By E.L. Danvers
Special to Start Spreading the News
A. Bartlett Giamatti, former Major League Baseball commissioner, once wrote in his 1977 ode to the sport that the baseball season ends just when you need it most. In “Green Fields of the Mind,” he described not only the bitter sweet way that baseball abandons you to face the chill rains and fall alone, but also described its steadfast reliability “to buffer the passage of time.”
When the 2020 MLB season was shut down in the middle of Spring Training last March, I felt kind of lost. For me, the start of the baseball season begins the second the Super Bowl ends. After last year’s quick step of a season and another crushing early playoff exit for the Yankees, the chase for 28 cannot begin soon enough.
Like Giamatti, I rely on baseball to buffer the passage of time. It is the nearly daily staple of my life during the regular season and hopefully deep into the post season. The team’s schedule is what I base my non-work life schedule around. It is, perhaps too often, what my mood rises and falls with, those moments of immense joy when “we” win and, alternatively, those games where destroying my TV by throwing the remote at it seems to be a better option that watching one more minute of whatever maddening monstrosity is happening on the field. (Side note: I don’t throw the remote at the TV, but I may turn the game off momentarily. However, I will, almost immediately, turn it back on and suffer through to the end with hope for a baseball miracle never snuffed out until the last out is.)
When the 2020 season eventually began, it did so mid-summer for a 60-game push with no fans in the stands, 7-inning double headers, geographically restricted interleague play, and the overall feeling of an exhibition than an actual season. In the normal season, 60 games are essentially nothing and certainly never a solid barometer of where any given team or player would be at the end of the 162-game grind. When the 2020 season ended, it felt like it barely began.
However, on February 1st, when the player’s union rejected the league’s proposal to delay both the start of Spring Training and the season, it took an affirmative step to restore the routine normality of Giamatti’s Green Fields to the Bronx and the league. Truth be told, I could not be more excited. Yankees baseball is not just a staple of my life during the six-month season. Its coexistence with the Mets is a standard part of New York City life from April through at least September for nearly 60 years. With the start of the season on deck, the return to the green fields on April 1 – with the Yankees leading off the season at home against the Blue Jays and the Mets facing the Nationals in Washington, D.C. – is a much-needed hint of a return to normalcy.
Though a complete return to normalcy is still a little while away, the start of the marathon season may serve as a small and symbolic indicator that we may not be far away from enjoying the countless staples of city life that New York is best known for. And, perhaps, when we need it most, baseball will be gone after a full 162-game season in the books and one of city’s proud MLB franchises facing the chill rains and fall with a World Series trophy in hand, back in the city where that trophy has spent the most time.
For this Yankee fan, it’s all for naught if that trophy isn’t returned to the Bronx for the 28th time.