This is the time of year when my blood starts stirring again and the adrenaline kicks in. My body naturally senses that we are in a new baseball season. I am hardly alone in this feeling. All current and former players start to feel the excitement as a new season nears. For those of us who are former players it is the memory of the excitement of starting anew with every team wondering if this is the year that they will win it all. Players on the bubble find out if they are making the major league team and veterans are mentally and physically ready to be done with the dull routine that spring training becomes as the end nears. Everyone is ready to compete for real – time to put up the numbers that will go on the back of the baseball card. There are none of the aches and pains that the players will feel as the season winds its way through summer and into fall.
The beginning of the season is when everyone is getting comfortable with new teammates. These are the guys that players will spend more time with over the coming seven or more months than they will spend with their own families during that stretch. It offers an opportunity to learn more about teammates. Are they team players or selfishly looking out for their stats, are they good in the clubhouse, are they leaders, are they competitors who thrive under pressure when the game is on the line, are they funny guys who help teammates stay relaxed over the grind of the long season? Baseball teammates become like brothers over the course of the year and like brothers they will have squabbles and fights. As long as the team chemistry is good and there is the mutual respect that most ball players have then they will emerge with a stronger relationship. Those strong bonds serve the players well over the course of the long season through all of the ups and downs that they will inevitably experience. If they are lucky the season will be a good one and they will make the playoffs together.
I was fortunate enough to experience the pinnacle in my career when the mix of players’ abilities, team chemistry, and coaching clicked for us in Boston in 2004 and we won the World Series. I still feel a strong bond with my former teammates from that squad, but I suppose that is normal for every team that has a successful season. We had our ten year reunion in 2014 and I still remember when we all got together before walking out onto the field for the celebration. Everyone was catching up and many of us hadn’t seen each other since the championship parade ten years earlier, but it felt like it was only a few days prior. Nobody skipped a beat and we felt the same strong sense of camaraderie that we had before. I truly wish that everyone who puts on a Major League Baseball uniform could experience the feeling of winning a World Series. It is something I will never forget and it is the memories of that experience and those feelings that get me excited for the new season.
Dave McCarty is a principal who works out of the Lee & Associates Oakland office.