Whether it’s going to a game with family, meeting your favorite player, or seeing a team win a World Series, we all have different reasons for loving the game of baseball. If you’re a die hard fan like I am, as soon as football season ends, you start counting down the days until Opening Day at the end of March.
This year though, there won’t be an Opening Day, or at least not in March. Due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus, the start of the regular season is being pushed back eight weeks at the very least, in correspondence with the recommendation from the CDC. At this point, any start to the season before mid-June would be welcomed by all.
So as the baseball fans that we are, how are we supposed to go the next two to three months without any games?
How about we think back to why we even love the game and the memories that keep us wanting more?
My passion for baseball first started when I was in elementary school, back when I used to live in Kentucky. I was lucky enough to where we lived a quick 25-minute drive from downtown Cincinnati and the Reds’ Great American Ballpark. On any given summer evening, we could be at our house at 6:30 p.m. and still make it to the ballpark for first pitch at 7:10 p.m.
The first baseball game I vividly remember attending was one with my grandpa in what I believe was either 2009 or 2010. My parents had won some giveaway that year, so we had tickets to a bunch of different games, and one night when my parents were out of town and my grandparents were watching us, he and I went to a game.
Now I couldn’t tell you whatsoever who the Reds played, what happened, or who ended up winning the game. What I can tell you though is the reason I remember that game is because it gave me a chance to spend time with family. Both my grandpa and I got to watch a sport that we enjoy and really experience what sports is all about. Sports is about making memories and bringing people closer together.
Fast forward a few years to the spring after I moved to Illinois, right before I turned 12 in late April. For my birthday, my family and my cousins’ family all went to Wrigley Field to see the Reds versus the Cubs. One of the coolest surprises about that day was that we got taken to and from the game in a limousine, which was super cool for a 12-year-old at the time. Add in the fact that the Reds won that day as well, and it was a really great birthday.
That whole day was shaped around a baseball game, but spending that day with family and celebrating was really what it was all about. Going to sporting events lets family and friends get together and experience something completely different at every game. You never know what’s going to happen at any given game, but now we won’t have those games for the time being due to the spread of this very serious virus.
Another prominent baseball memory that comes to mind was in October of 2015, the first time the Cubs had made the playoffs in numerous years. It was the day of game four of the NLDS between the Cubs and the Cardinals. I was actually in school when my mom and I started texting back and forth about buying tickets and going to the game later that day.
Just a few hours later, I got called out of my last two class periods and we headed downtown for the game. That playoff game was one of the craziest and best atmospheres I’ve ever been at and was an all around amazing time.
That’s the thing about Wrigley Field and the energy that stadium and fans bring. Every single game at Wrigley Field is packed with fans, and the atmosphere is something truly unmatched (and that pains me to say as a Reds fan). It’s crazy even when the Cubs are losing, but when they’re winning, it really is a totally different experience than at any other game. The city and the fans buy in and treat the team like it’s their family. The Cubs are Chicago (sorry, Sox fans), and that’s what makes baseball so great. When the fans all really get involved in the game, it really is something special and that’s what we have to remember, as there are no games going on.
On that day we ended up getting to see the Cubs win their first playoff series at home in decades, and as someone who isn’t even a Cubs fan, I still had a great time. That was a game my mom and I will both never forget and would spend the money on a game like that again in a heartbeat.
So if you’re a person that loves sports and is upset that there won’t be any for the next few months, think about the past and remember why you even love the game. Sports is a game that brings us all closer together, and as we look to stop the Coronavirus think back to the great times you and your family or friends had together at a game. It will only make it that much better when the games finally do return.
Ben Schmidt is a sports columnist for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl