As the world goes mad with Twitter, texting and YouTube, overwhelming us with information, the allure of that old-fashioned rite of spring -- Opening Day -- is a more welcome reality check, a more welcome moment of clarity than ever before.
When I was 12, I'd skip school. Now I skip work. Or create an excuse to duck out and find some random bar with a game on -- so that I might bear witness to the season's very first pitch. And with that, after a long winter's hiatus, finally I feel complete. Rejuvenated, I cruise around town on my own personal Baseball Goodwill tour, glad-handing any human in a baseball hat, regaling them at full volume with idioms like, "Beautiful day for a ballgame, eh? Let's play two!"
But my renewed lease on life is sometimes unexpectedly derailed. For along the way, I find that there are a few amongst us who are concerned about the game. Salaries are too high. Ticket prices, too. The whole institution, in their opinion, has copped to a luxury-box mentality. ... Now, in my eyes, if you're a true fan, you understand what lies at the heart of this unique game. You understand its essence. Its potential. Its ties to your roots. And if you get that, you'd never walk away.
That is all logical and good. And I can calm my nerves with a dose of this reason. But something about these encounters still bothered me. Stayed with me. Haunted me. Offended me. So I went inward, looking for the truth in this conundrum, and I reflected. I stripped the game down to its sandlot basics: One pitch at a time. One game at a time. I revisited the meaning of the game's structure, a structure balanced on the concepts of hope, failure and redemption. Here I found light. ...
These principles are the engine that drives the sport.
You can't replace them. You must trust in them. They must be the focus. For these at the end of the day, for the true fan, are all that really matter. The culture around the game may have changed. But the game itself has not. Nor has the simple pleasure, in a complicated world, of getting lost in something, for a few hours, outside of yourself.
The simplicity that is the game.
Is the thing.
Maybe I'm a naive romantic, an idealist, living in my own rose-colored lollipop "Field Of Dreams." But this game of throw the ball, hit the ball, catch the ball serves a truly valuable function in my world. I count on the game's Zen-like structure and lessons for inspiration. To influence the way I go about my craft -- my daily routines.
I need the game to reconnect me to the past. And in turn, to connect me to the future. ...
Maybe I need to grow up.
But as my beard sprouts more white hairs, my eagerness for this Opening Day moment has never soured -- from my days as a stickball swinging kid in New Haven, Conn., to my Adventures in Adulthood Land today in Los Angeles.
So here's to a happy Opening Day -- with all of its promise and possibilities.
This season, enjoy a baseball game for just the sake of it being a baseball game.
Dig watching your team -- win or lose -- because you can.
And no matter what, it's a beautiful day for a ballgame. ... So let's play two.
Marcus Giamatti is an actor who was a regular cast member of the television drama "Judging Amy." His father, the late A. Bartlett Giamatti, was Commissioner of Baseball in 1989 and National League president from 1986-89. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.