Spring Pastime

Just before Christmas we got a new Washington Post deliveryperson on our route.  He’s been great.  He’s always on time; he has a strong arm, consistently hitting the spot halfway up the driveway where the brick walkway to the front door begins.  And he knows how to double bag.  Our previous deliverer thought you just put two bags over the paper with the open ends at the same end.  Sometimes the sodden paper floated inside the bag.  The skilled double-wrap has been a godsend in this bleak, dank winter of seemingly incessant cloud, chill, and coronavirus.

This morning I rescued my expertly wrapped paper from the rain, pulled out the Sports section to read while I ate my homemade biscuits and jam along with the essential java, and settled in for another dark-day breakfast.  More’s the pity, since this is the time of year when the morning sun floods the kitchen on rare cloudless days.

Castro
Starlin Castro bats for the Nats against the Cardinals on February 28.

But there radiated out of the front Spots page the very essence of Florida sunshine, as seen in a huge color photo taken from the left-field seats, right behind the Nationals’ bullpen, at the Cardinals’ spring training facility in Jupiter, FL.  The sky was blue; the outfield grass almost glowed green.  The story emphasized that there were actual fans at the first Spring Training game yesterday, albeit fans who were masked and separated at social distance by empty seats.  Well, mostly masked.  This is after all Florida, where some of the population thinks it’s more important to assert one’s defiance of any government mandate than to stay healthy and help others to stay healthy in a pandemic.

Thank God for the Florida sun!  Thank God for the green grass and blue sky!  Thank God for the masked fans!  I think Spring Training exists as an essential part of the American Pastime in order to reassure us fans in the grey big-market centers of the north that spring is on the way, even when our March comes in like a mangy, waterlogged lion.

As for the game, the Cardinals tied it 4-4 on some miscues in the bottom of the ninth.  They don’t play extra innings in Florida.  On other sunny, warm fields, the Red Sox and the Braves lost their Spring Training openers too.  Who cares?  These. Games. Mean. Nothing.  In late October we’ll look back on late February contests and laugh as we watch the Sox and the Braves square off in the World Series.  Fantasies of all kinds abound under the subtropical preseason sun.

Copyright 2021, Arnold Bradford

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