As finals wind down for me in my first year as an urban Chicago public charter school teacher, I've finally been able to take a breath (still have to grade up a storm to get the semester marks in before Friday though). It's been a challenge and a welcome distraction from the fact that there's no baseball going on right now...at least, not the type of baseball that I'm fully invested in. Sure, I'd love to stream a winter league game here and there, but I miss Major League Baseball the most. I miss the daily promise that there will be at least one MLB contest to follow, full of possibilities of web gems and other great athletic feats by the finest baseball players on the planet. Even when they suck, they wouldn't suck as much as I would on that level.
Now, with school almost out for the holidays, I find myself thinking more and more about baseball again. I had volunteered to be the assistant baseball coach at the school. The head coach was a former college baseball player and so he's a lot better than me at teaching the guys about fundamentals and stuff like that (I have grown up enough to recognize when people are simply smarter and better than I am, so I can step back and let them lead). Having worked out with CrossFit for a few years with my graduate school buddies, I am more responsible for helping the gentlemen get into game shape so that their legs, arms, and core are much more durable for the three-to-four games per week that we'll be playing once the season starts up around March or so. I'm also a fairly good fielder with good range so I'll probably help with that too. Luckily the head coach is a good hitter, because I can't hit for crap. We had started doing conditioning drills throughout the fall, but with finals looming the conditioning sessions had stopped for the time being, so that was another distraction gone from me realizing that baseball wasn't back yet.
Today, I kept thinking about baseball all day. I thought about ways to work baseball into science classes next year, about analogies dealing with the Cubs that I could use to talk about patience and building towards something great to motivate the students. I thought about drills that I could implement to help the players learn better cutoff positions, get a better start on the basepaths, etc. And I experienced a bit of an emptiness because I knew this couldn't be done until it got warmer towards the middle of February. We're still two months away from Spring Training for MLB, and Arizona is a couple thousand miles away. Here in Chicago, I'm still debating whether I want to go to the Cubs Convention or not. Maybe I will, just to wax nostalgic with like-minded fans.
It's been fun to follow the transactions of the 29 non-Cubs teams over this offseason (the Cubs have done some stuff too, but it hasn't been terribly exciting to be honest). But if there's one thing I learned and experienced today, it's that nothing compares to watching baseball live in person or on television. I miss it a lot. I can't wait for spring.