March Madness of a Different Sort


What is this *basketball* you talk about? Where the law of gravity is routinely ignored, and round orange balls seem to act like some crazed positively charged particle in its unerring trajectory toward a negatively charged hoop?
No, my March madness…comes about not due to the stylized urban battle, taking place on courts with lords of the hoops vying for supremacy, mine involves all the senses….
You can have your march madness. Give me a transistor radio,with ear piece surreptitiously being used, listening to Brickhouse, or Carry, while trying to look attentive in history class. The smell of musky ground, which a month past was in winters suspended animation, now assaults the senses. Spring has arrived, even north of a southern gentleman’s line of demarcation. In that sweet period of youth before legs which seem to go on forever, and eyes of unlimited depths, take full command of a young mans fancy, the clarion call of spring was to love of a different sort. The distant thunder of an oncoming spring storm recalled the thunderclap of wooden bats sending a single leather hailstone over the fence and onto Waveland Avenue. Even the tell-tail sound of bright red birds, did nothing more then to remind one of a reviled adversary from that ersatz “big city”, St. Louis.
In my youth, the rally was “Santo, Kessinger, to Banks”, and “Lets play two!” Seeing Ferguson Jenkins consistently pitch complete games. When you only came out of the game, if the magic failed to arrive on any given day, or worse, you were injured beyond the ability to play. (To be fair, there are some players, who given the chance, would do the same. Managers and management have been the villains here, the same folks who gave us the “dh”…but these attempted debaucheries of the game are topics for another day.)
You, who have the “other” March madness, enjoy. She is a street smart, and gritty kind a gal. But at best only a pretender to Lady Baseball’s charms. The lass who’s spirit resides (for me) at Wrigley Field, had my heart first. She taught me more about patience, loyalty, and love, then you ever could. She also, yearly, gave lessons on fickleness, and the capriciousness of winds blowing out of the park. Yes, that was when I became infected with my March madness. It continues to this day, currently residing in Arizona, soon to head for the city of big shoulders, and an ivy covered walled cathedral, where, this year as in every year past, hope springs eternal.
Lets play ball!

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