Wednesday, March 7, 2007

When crack became tink

A few weeks ago I heard the first tink of the season. It came from the baseball field that's about one crisp relay from our front door. Probably a dad over there, pitching to a child, getting ready for tryouts, or just a kid version of spring training. The tink comes from the aluminum bats, and is a sound I can't hear without lamenting the demise of the real thing. One of the best reasons to go early for BP at a pro game is to hear the crack of the bat echoing through the mostly empty stands. There are few feelings that flow through your hands that are more pure than getting good wood on a fastball, and few that punish you more than getting one out on the end or right up on the handle. That luscious sound has been eliminated from the neighborhood, from the Little League park, and from the high school diamond, and replaced with the embarassing tink. And then there are the cheap hits that metal bats give like gifts, balls hit off the trademark that sing into the outfield instead of rolling weakly to the shortstop. This, my friends, is not progress.

But it's a beautiful thing, the blooming of a new baseball season. There's no amount of tinks, or steroid talk, or disappointment in overpaid underperformers that can dim the glow on the horizon that is the start of another season. Since ballplayers rarely stay with the same team for any length of time, I agree with Jerry Seinfeld that we're just "cheering for the clothes," but the game stirs something inside me all the same.

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