Bill Veeck was right. There are only two seasons: Baseball and Winter. Winter is a season of waiting. Waiting for the sun to crack through clouds clotting the grey sky. Waiting for a gust of bitter wind to pass before upturning one’s collar and shuffling through the congested, dingy streets, thumbing a path to the places one chooses to go. Waiting for the check counters to finish tallying their figures and peeling their c-notes. Waiting for the fruits of such taxing and all-too-encompassing labor to manifest themselves on the field of play, where the men in uniform can help us forget all about the nickels and dimes of baseball. A time of waiting for the village green to reassert itself, in all its timelessness and beauty and utter defiance, in the face of urban sprawl. Each year the sky gets a bit darker, the air thicker. And each year the diamond-cut grass gets a bit greener, the only manicured lawn we need. And boy do we need it.
Winter is a season for those damning human maladies of hindsight and futurethink, of examining the too recently passed in aide of projecting the long-term future. The game of baseball, as it is played, is an accumulation of isolated moments of abrupt and calculated movement, moments that add up to outs, scoreless innings, rallies, crooked numbers, to greatness and to failure. During the winter these moments tend to escape us. We as fans, as writers, as analysts, pundits or however we label ourselves extend our reach to the bigger pictures. And then we find ourselves attaching monetary gain to said pictures. During the winter months, we also become businessmen.
There is a reason baseball has been the subject of the vast majority of books written on sports, and it is not simply because it has been around the longest. Baseball allows for a narrative thread. In fact, it creates and maintains one of such assurance and of such unpredictability. We gestate throughout the winter months, assessing past performances and predicting future ones. We pick favorites, analyze transactions. We predict the World Series. Why? Because it is fun. And because we know, unless gifted the bit of luck inherently necessary to succeed in baseball, that we will be wrong. It is as much fun to be wrong as it is right when observing baseball. One cannot write the outcome of a baseball season, just as a good writer cannot arrive at the conclusion of his/her story without taking the ride first. All one can do is trust the integrity of what exists, have confidence in the players, and let the rest work itself out. It’s a beautiful thing, to start with something you know to be good and feel the rush of it work its way to greatness.