The Arizona Desert Lamp

Opening Day

Posted in Campus by Evan Lisull on 20 February 2009

Jerry Kindall Field

I see great things in baseball, It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism, tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set, repair those losses and be a blessing to us.
-Walt Whitman

It’s been a pretty crazy week here at the Lamp, so it’s refreshing to know that the Opening Day is just a few hours away.

Baseball, that most zen of sports, is one of the hidden gems here in Tucson. Perhaps it’s my Northern upbringing, but after a childhood of nasty Februaries it’s nice to enjoy a ball game during that shortest month, instead of shoveling snow. More than that, though, the game is inherently calming; at least, until the post-season (deo volente). Unlike the non-stop back-and-forth of a basketball game or the gladiator-esque grind of football, baseball is a plodding game, with more in common with its British ancestor than anything else. Thus, the strategy, the voluminous statistics, the seventh inning stretch, and the endless 3-2 count. A baseball match is not just a “game,” but an event, filled with tradition and respect for the game.

Yet lest you think that UA baseball is a yawner for the senior set, allow me to introduce you to the Hot Corner. Roundly and rambunctious, but never classless, the Hot Corner is among the most effective fan sections in the country. The rest of the ZonaZoo could learn a thing or two from this crew about how to get into your opponent’s head, without throwing water bottles onto the field of play. Furthermore, the games are free for ZonaZoo members, and easy to attend. You don’t have to wrangle with online reservation systems or fight your way through a mob to get inside.

This year doesn’t look like an easy one for the ‘Cats. The Wildcat had a good writeup on this young squad a couple of days ago :

Many of the Wildcats’ main contributors from last season left gaps all over the field – from the right side of the infield, to the outfield and definitely in the bullpen. Names such as Ziegler, Steele, Schlereth and Perry will no longer be heard over the loud speaker. Instead, less-familiar ones like Veltmann, Steiner, Doyle and Cooper could become the norm.

. . .

Arizona finished each of it’s last two seasons with 40-plus wins – the first time in 13 years. With strong leadership from the few returning starters along with young talent, the Wildcats are determined to make it a third.

“I don’t think talent is a question,” said catcher Dwight Childs. “I think the mental game is more a question with these younger kids and as an older player who’s been here for a couple years it’s my responsibility to kind of reel these kids in mentally.

“As a group of older guys like myself, (third baseman) Brad Glenn and (outfielder) Hunter Pace,” Childs added, “I think we’ve done a pretty good job with that so far.”

Yet the starting pitching staff remains strong as ever, even with the loss of Danny Schlereth and Ryan Perry. Along with the somewhat surprising return  of Preston “1.87” Guilmet, the team also picked up what looks to be a strong JuCo transfer in Matt Veltman.

Whatever it may be, it is baseball. And win or lose (and as a Detroit Tigers fan in 2003, I can certainly tell you about losing), that’s a good thing. To get in the spirit, I highly recommend John Updike’s (RIP) piece on Ted Williams, “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu.” Opening pitch is scheduled for 7:00 PM; hope to see you there.

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  1. […] Here’s another thoughtful ode to the baseball season’s beginning – from the excellent Arizona Desert Lamp – […]


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