April 03, 2005

Play ball

It’s Opening Day for Major League Baseball, with the Boston Red Sox playing the New York Yankees tonight in the first game of the 2005 season. The clocks went ahead last night. And it snowed for most of the day here in Toronto.

Baseball fans seem just a bit more passionate, or maybe obsessive, than other sports fans, and the game’s peculiar cultural mix of trivia and statistics brings together the sublime and ridicuolus. Many passionate baseball fans contend that the sport is as artistic as it is athletic.

Scottish football fans have similar passion for that sport, which, like baseball, has a very short rulebook. The fewer the rules, the nearer the game approaches perfection. “The Beatiful Game” hasn’t taken off in the United States the way it has in most of the rest of the world perhaps because one beautiful game per nation is enough. Nations that excel in baseball generally don’t do so well in soccer, and vice-versa.

But baseball and football are not unlike pipe bands. Each new season brings optimism, new line-ups, and the possibility of unexpected greatness. We all know that pipe band people can be as obsessive and passionate as they come. The first pipe band competition of the year, wherever it is, feels much like Opening Day. Our competitive art is, like football and baseball, artisitic sport.

On Opening Day there’s always a chance that the Blue Jays will be better than the Yankees, that Aberdeen will finish ahead of Celtic, that a new band will become a contender in August.

Play ball.




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