The golden hour is upon us, that handful of days preceding the start of the regular season when we no longer require convincing that time hasn’t stood still since the last out of the World Series (or, in our case, the Wild Card Game). We feel the dearth move under our feet. Nothingness is shuffling off this mortal coil. Reasons to be are in bloom.
It’s not actual baseball. It’s actual baseball on the verge. This may be my favorite hour of the year, spiritually speaking.
The uncountable games sputter to a close. The excess players are sorted and bagged. We make educated guesses about what’s going to happen next. They aren’t worth the oxygen we process while we think them through, but we happily commit brain cells to constructing initial rosters, projecting final records and tracking everything in between. Educatedly guess away. Nobody will circle back to check your work.
Who’s the fifth starter? Who’s the last reliever? Who’s at the end of the bench? Who’s out of options, which sounds like a death sentence but sometimes serves as a career reprieve? Who needs to go down so as not to go stale? Who can we say goodbye to without fear of recrimination? Who’s trying on a new number? Who’s found his old fastball? Whose shape, previously deemed the best of his life, will translate to harder hits and quicker jumps?
I’ve got no idea. Well, I have some idea, but it’s subject to revision pending exposure to all the baseball players and baseball activities it hasn’t occurred to me to yet foresee. A year ago at this time, I didn’t know what the season ahead was going to encompass. Same as the year before. The scales tipped decidedly in the direction of pleasant surprise. I didn’t need to know in advance. I still don’t.
As months of impatience reduce themselves under the pressure of calendar and clock, I can be patient. The thing we’ve been waiting for is arriving any day now. All winter long, we couldn’t wait. Now that we almost don’t have to anymore, we can — and gladly. Did I say it’s the golden hour? More like diamond.