The Commish Online                                                                                
Making "Scents" Of It All...
April 9, 2002

There's nothing like the beginning of baseball season.  Spring arrives, green grass, later daylight, Baseball Tonight.  Putting the coat away, wearing shorts about a month too early, Cubs in the afternoon, Sox at night.  The best part, though?  The smell of baseball.  You know what I'm talking about - walk outside on a sunny spring evening and damned if you can't smell baseball in the air.  Ask my friend Mike and he'll tell you.  Growing up, I would see him in the school halls and say "Can you smell it?  Baseball is in the air!"  He understood.  Or he thought I was crazy.

I'm not just talking about the smell of cut grass or the first balmy breeze of the season.  It's everything rolled into one.  It's baseball.  Typically this happens late in spring training but with the miserable Chicago weather this spring, I am sad to say that I have not smelled baseball this year.  I will, though, and when I do, I will be reminded of games of catch, "running bases," automatic outs to left field, ghost runners, whiffle ball in the backyard, and a neighbor's broken window.  Unfortunately, now I'm the neighbor.

Still don't know what I'm talking about?  One day soon when you leave work after a long day, you will walk outside and see the bright sun sinking like a Bruce Sutter splitter.  The warm fresh air will hit you and, whoosh, you will smell baseball.  Suddenly all of baseball's memories will be fresh in your head like a highlight reel.  Julio Cruz jumping on home plate to clinch the division in '83.  The Red Baron cuffing the ball behind his back on the way to the Cy Young in '84 (and you trying to imitate the delivery but never with quite the same success).  Lee Smith staring down the opposition in the 9th, hitters quivering in the shadows while Smitty does his best "I'm a 90 year old man who's about to die in the heat but boy can I bring it" impression.  Kirk Gibson limping to the plate just to hit a home run off the unhittable Eck.  Francisco Cabrera lining a single to left while Justice scores leaving it up to Sid Bream, professional piano mover, to run 180 feet and send the Braves to the Series.

Your memories might be different, but the effect is the same.  One day soon, when I walk outside, I am going to smell baseball.  I will grab my A2000 mitt out of the garage, break it in, and convince myself that I could have been a major leaguer if I really wanted.  And I might just call my friend.  Hopefully he won't think I'm crazy.