It was just a phrase I overheard, not even a whole sentence. But it lifted my spirits more than spirits ever have. I was walking around the big ball field in Golden Gate Park last Saturday. No baseball was being played on that gorgeous afternoon, but sitting in the bleachers was a man with a portable radio at his side. And from that radio came the words, "strike two to Rodriguez."
I didn't know who Rodriguez was. I didn't care. It was baseball, at long last baseball, back from winter's hibernation. The phrase was uttered with soothing authority by my favorite broadcaster, Duane Kuiper. Like the game itself, he was rebooting after so many months off. The broadcast came from Arizona where several Major League Baseball teams, including my Giants, prepare for the regular season. I heard Kuip, I heard the contented murmuring of the crowd in the background, and all was right with the world.
I took a moment and breathed deeply, gratefully. Then I took in the scene before me. In the foreground was the empty baseball diamond and beyond that, the outfield and expansive lawn, acres of bright green grass waking up. Urban pastoral, the place was dotted with a few families picnicking, newly-loves smooching and twenty-somethings playing Frisbee. One man was turning cartwheels. Another thing emerged from hibernation, and that was my smile.
It was just a moment really, and just four words I happened to hear, "strike two to Rodriguez." They could have come from Shakespeare or a good Bible; they touched my soul and rendered me a willing victim of cliches: my whole world changed, hope sprang eternal, life was a gift.
Baseball has its cliches, too: absolutely, we can make the playoffs. If we stay healthy, there's no reason we can't go all the way. With this pitching staff, we've got a chance to win every time.