Well, folks, I don't know about you, but for me life doesn't get any better than this time of year. Old Man Winter has packed his bags and is heading south of the equator.
Here in the Northern Hemisphere, if you listen carefully, you can almost hear the trees, flowers, grass and bushes laughing and hugging. Birds are chirping, building nests and eagerly anticipating the birth of their newborns.
And here in the Northeast, golf season has finally teed off! I don't have shorts on yet, but at least I'm on the course. So after months of whining in the basement, my clubs are in the car and grinning from driver to wedge. As in every spring, they're all eagerly anticipating birdies, just not the ones with feathers.
As much as I love the game of golf, though, what makes this time of year even more special is that the great game of baseball is back. The major leagues have started their regular season, and our Rochester Red Wings were slated to toe the rubber and step into the batter's box Thursday in Syracuse. After two games on the road, the Wings come back to Frontier Field for their home opener Saturday against Buffalo, the first of a seven-game homestand.
Maybe it's a sign of age--mine, of course--but the Grand Old Game is in a class by itself. I've said this before, but it's worth repeating: Some sports have changed their basic dimensions-including golf-to accommodate improved equipment and better players.
Baseball, though, got it right the first time: 60 feet, 6 inches from the pitching mound to home plate and 90 feet between bases. From the old days of Ty Cobb up to Derek Jeter in today's game, if the batter hits a ground ball to deep short, the shortstop has to make a good stop, then a good throw to first to beat the runner by a half step. The only change baseball made was lowering the height of the pitching mound from 15 inches to 10, give or take an inch.
There is no sport quite like baseball, and it amazes me that so many people find it boring. The truth is they don't have a clue. It is a sport with strategy based on sign language, from the dugout to the mound to the infield to the catcher. A 2-0 count on the batter-that's two balls and no strikes-with a runner at first base and no outs can be a big deal.
Look, I know I'm repeating myself, but anyone who thinks this great game is boring probably also thinks a "Three Stooges" movie is high drama.
I can't wait to go to Frontier Field, sit back and relax while munching on a hot dog and sipping a cool one as I watch the 2012 Red Wings. And I expect to watch them turn it around this year after back-to-back seasons of 90-plus losses.
As I have said for years, watching baseball on a beautiful, sunny afternoon is a lot like lying in your hammock, sipping on lemonade and watching puffy, white clouds drift by. Except in certain situations, it's not as gripping as football, which features players trying to decapitate opponents-legally, of course. Baseball is a finesse sport, not a brutal one.
From what I've heard, going to an Oakland A's game can get a little nerve-racking, even dangerous, if you're wearing their opponents' jersey or cap. Otherwise, going to 99 percent of the baseball games about to be played nationwide is like hanging out with friends. Most fans chitchat during games, rather than throwing stuff at each other and challenging someone to meet them in the parking lot.
This is a new-look Red Wings team with a new manager, Gene Glynn, and only five players who were on the opening-day roster in 2011. Good news? Let's hope so. Before the team worked out Tuesday for the first time at Frontier Field, there was no visible ho-hum, "here we go again" attitude. Instead, Glynn said, "I would say our attitude is real positive."
Let's hope the results are positive. Look, Rochester is a legendary baseball city with a Triple-A team playing in the equivalent of a major-league stadium where 12,000 fans can watch a game.
The food served at the stadium is off the charts. You want it, they have it. The stadium is roomy and comfortable. So if you're a golf nut like me, record the third round of the Masters and go see the Red Wings hammer the Buffalo Bisons. The game is at 4:05, and the weather is supposed to be sunny and in the 60s.
Trust me, you'll love it. Hey, it's baseball!
Rick Woodson's column appears each Thursday on the Rochester Business Journal website at www.rbjdaily.com. His book, "Words of Woodson," is available at www.authorhouse.com/bookstore. Listen to his weekly program, "The Golf Tee," at 9 a.m. Sunday on WHTK-AM 1280 and FM 107.3.4/5/12 (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.