After the horrible winter for practically everyone who lives in the lower 48, spring is almost here. Some people might declare it spring after the first daffodil blooms or the first 60-degree day or the first round of allergy-induced sneezing.

But I declare it spring when the first pitch is thrown. Or the first adjective is turned into a verb. (As much as I love proper grammar, there is nothing like hearing an announcer say that the infielder “nonchalanted the ball.” For the definition, see also “he olé-ed it.”)

In honor of our national pastime, which starts Sunday night with my two favorite teams – the Cubs and Cardinals – squaring off, I would like to recommend three pregame rituals:

  1. Watch Bull Durham – or at least catch a few classic lines or scenes. Mine is when Crash tips off the opposing batter about the pitch Nuke is getting ready to throw. A close second is the lollygaggers’ scene. The discussion on the mound about wedding gifts and the scene where they cause a rain-out are honorable mentions.
  2. Listen to the greatest baseball song: Centerfield by John Fogerty. It captures the magic of the game and achieves an amazing feat: It incorporates the clapping machine and an organ and STILL make the song sound good.
  3.  Read a couple of excerpts from my favorite column on baseball. Since I couldn’t find it online, I had to cut and paste it below. It ran 10 years ago and was written by columnist Mike Celizic. I often blog about how reading great writing makes you a better writer. This one is on my list as an example of how, more than any other type of daily reporting, sports really lets writers shine:


Pitchers and catchers. Are there three better words?

It is a most magical mantra, pulling a fan through the winter, when you can go days without ever seeing the sun and weeks or months without seeing the ground. It leads you through the darkness and pulls you toward the light.

“Pitchers and catchers.”

You hear the phrase as soon as the old season ends in a shower of champagne. You repeat it to yourself as you shovel the walk and driveway after December’s first soggy snowstorm. When the new year slides into the depths of January and it’s colder outside than a slumlord’s heart, you look at the calendar, flip a month ahead, count the days, reassure yourself that spring is not far behind.

Forget Groundhog’s Day. Forget robins. Nothing heralds spring like “pitchers and catchers.”

People ask me what my favorite sport is, and I can’t answer. I like them all — although if soccer vanished tomorrow, I’m not sure I’d notice. All have something special.

Take football, America’s passion. It is an all-you-can-eat tailgate smorgasbord that can’t be taken every day. Baseball is America’s pastime. It is sustenance — daily bread and perhaps a carbonated beverage with which to wash it down. Football sates the senses. Baseball nourishes the soul. …

  • Mike Celizic