I really enjoy baseball. The level of play doesn't really matter to me. From tee-ball to the majors, if there is a game underway, I'm interested.
So, for the past six days I have been on pilgrimage.
About a third of major league baseball shows up in the Phoenix-Tucson area this time every year for Cactus League games in preparation for the real season that begins in April.
I watched 5 games in as many days. I kept score throughout four of those games--something about recording results as they unfold is therapeutic!
Baseball is like a spiritual exercise for me. Just getting away and losing myself in a game, watching young players take their best shot at getting into the big leagues--if you like baseball, you will immediately understand my point. If you don't get it, take my word for it: It is very special.
This was my second year to make Spring Training in Arizona.
This year seemed different than last. Maybe I was familiar with the different parks and the routine and the process, I don't know. But, I do know that I observed everything this year with keener eyes.
Maybe it was the incredible steroid Congressional hearings. Surprise, surprise! Bloated, pumped up home run sluggers cheat and use illegal drugs to enhance performance. Now there is news for all of us who follow the game.
The fact is most of us have known for awhile that our heroes as kids made records without the help. They also chased down fly balls and made mind boggling throws that today's players sometimes don't even attempt. But then, they had their problems with alcohol, gambling and domestic violence. Baseball is played by people no matter which era!
Back to my point. Whatever it was, I saw new things this trip out west.
For one thing, I was extremely aware of my wealth. Just to be able to make a trip like this in a world like mine. . .well, I have more than I need.
And, so do a lot of other people.
I overheard an older gent behind me in the stands one day talking on his cell phone. He described how his stocks were really paying off. He was 62-years-old, retired and rolling in the dough.
Lots of rich guys like me watch spring ball.
Then, there was the complexion of the crowds at all of the parks. A conservative estimate would have to cut the demographics at 90+% white and less than 10% persons of color. I know by looking at the lineups in every game that lots of people who are not white like baseball. It was a crowd of privilege and advantage by birth that I was a part of.
A somewhat surreal dimension was provided every day by U. S. Air Force and Marine fly-overs by several different varieties of jet fighter planes. Weapons in the air that cost millions and millions of dollars. Weapons designed to protect the way of life that I have become accustomed to, including my spring ball.
Don't get me wrong. I loved the games and the hustle and the details. I will likely go back again.
But, somehow the stark contrasts and the memory of so many friends left behind in inner city Dallas gave me a different perspective on everything.
God on the Prowl
1 day ago