…Continued from the previous post.
As enjoyable as watching opening round coverage of the NCAA Tournament is, Kels and I had no remorse about leaving March Madness behind in Scottsdale’s Fox Sports Grill at 3:45 PM for the 7:05 PM first pitch that would begin Event #100 – a Spring Training game between the Los Angeles Angels and the San Francisco Giants. After all, we had almost ten miles to travel.
Twenty minutes later we pulled into a free parking lot adjacent to Scottsdale Stadium – an absolute gem of an old-fashioned downtown ballpark. And we were by no means alone in our eagerness. It would be another 45 minutes until the gates would even open, but already there were hundreds of people milling around, even though all 11,622 tickets had long since been sold. These people, like us, just wanted to get inside and drink up the atmosphere as soon as possible.
Ask any sports fan when Spring really begins and they’ll reply without hesitation: The day that pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training. No matter where you live, from the snowiest of Frost Belt towns to the warmest Sun Belt city, the day that baseball’s pre-season camps open is always the most reliable harbinger of hope. And what is Spring anyway, if not the Official Sponsor of Hope?
When Spring Training begins, every team is a potential World Series champ. Yes, even the Pittsburgh Pirates! OK, that’s patently ridiculous, but see how easily the concept can sweep you away?
With that in mind, what better place to end my journey than at the home office of Renewal?
Consider this: Almost every single organized sport known to man plays their exhibition games at the beginning of the season. College football chooses to do so at the end. Why?
First, what else are they going to do in the absence of real live playoffs? You know, the kind that virtually every other organized sport engages in?
Second, in a clandestine meeting held decades ago, the mayors of every city that houses a major university resolved the following: For just one week each winter, their respective student bodies should get obnoxiously drunk and throw up in somebody else’s town for a change.
And thus the bowl system was born.