It’s April. Holy Cow!
Call me a silly romantic, but I love this month. Spring. Birds are chirping.
Magnolias are blooming, even in Chicago. It’s a joyful cacophony.
And there is SPORTS.
It is the one great thing on TV if cooking and home improvement bore you.
First, there was the NCAA Basketball tournament. My favorites were knocked out early. Florida Atlantic from Boca Raton in the Final Four? Are you crazy? Last second shots. Unknown players and coaches. I loved it.
Now the NBA playoffs start. After a thousand games, we get to watch the best players in the world, literally. Antetokounmpo from Greece, Embiid from Cameroon, Nikola Jokić from Serbia, and yes, LeBron from Akron, Ohio, will show their stuff. It’s a basketball orgy. I love it. Keep it coming till June.
The NFL draft is April 27. The Chicago Bears need virtually every position but quarterback. So they traded their first pick to Carolina for a solid wide receiver, a quiver of draft picks, and a number 9 pick to gamble on an offensive tackle. Will Carolina choose Bryce Young or CJ Stroud, or surprise the football world and trade for Aaron Rogers?
But my real joy is baseball. The fun started with the World Baseball Classic, ending in Shohai Ohtani striking out Mike Trout to win the championship for Japan. Now we get to see probably the greatest baseball player ever to play the game, Ohtani, maybe win 20 games, strike out 200 batters and hit 47 homers, as he prepares to sign the richest free agent contract in history. He should. Wouldn’t it be great if it was with the Cubs?
The beauty of Ohtani is that I get the feeling he is not really playing for the money. But if it is available, he will collect it. He loves the game. I absolutely love to watch him play. His 100 mph fastball, golden swing, and a smile rounding the bases. Ohtani–I never expected to see you.
But best of all, I have lived to see my Chicago Cubs put together a team that is a winner. I do not expect to see a pennant this year, but these guys can play and seem to really love the game like I do. They can catch a ball, steal bases and know how to win a close game. A beautiful shift from the last few years.
And speaking of shifts, the new rule prohibiting shifts in the field gives a left-handed hitter a fair shake, now that no infielder will be stationed in short right field.
Also, the introduction of a pitch clock has taken away 30 minutes of idle game time, which had been used by batters taking batting gloves on and off and pitchers shaking off four signs before a pitch. There are now more stolen bases too because pitchers have limited throws to hold runners and the bases have been enlarged.
One problem remains. Pitching is just too good for most hitters. Fastballs at 98 mph are not uncommon, and sliders at 91 mph are almost unhittable if the batter does not guess right on the pitch. Fortunately, many pitchers cannot control their vicious stuff, so the game still has balance.
I know, I am still a child about my favorite sport. I sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” in the bottom of the 7th and cheer for a game-winning hit.
It is my April, and I love the idyllic memories of my mom taking me to Ladies Day at Wrigley Field to see Jackie Robinson play. We will celebrate his day this Saturday. I see a big framed photo of Jackie sliding into home in my garage, which I cherish every day when I leave my car. I am a true fan of the old ball game. Bring on the popcorn.
Questions: What do you look forward to most about the spring season?
Which players are you cheering for this season?