After more than three months and over 100 days, baseball is back in roughly 15 hours.
It’s been a long and winding offseason full of blockbuster deals, major trades, retirements and plenty of spurned superstars.
Tomorrow all of that ends—except for the spurned superstars thing, sorry Johnny Damon—and the boys of summer return to the fields of spring to begin gearing up for another season in the sun.
I realize that games of any kind are still weeks away and meaningful games are at least a month and a half away, but just knowing that the players will be on the field tomorrow gives me a real sense of excitement and, oddly enough, of peace.
Baseball players belong on the field.
That sentiment segues pretty nicely into today’s Major League Moment, one of the most memorable moments of my life:
September 11, 2001 is a day that holds a huge place in the hearts and minds of anyone who was alive to witness the events unfold.
I’m not going to try and talk about the magnitude of the day or the events, because the entire thing is bigger than me and bigger than anything I can put into words. Plus anything I’d say only goes as far as me. Every person has their own view, their own thoughts, and their own opinions of what happened and why it happened that day.
What I want to talk about is what came after 9/11.
For more than a week, the country sat in a standstill. No one knew what to do beyond grieving and mourning.
But on September 21, 2001, the city of New York gathered together to show that life would go on after the attacks and that things could once again have some semblance of “normality.”
September 21, 2001 was my dad’s 39th birthday. My dad, for reasons I’ll never understand, is a Mets fan. So we sat together in our living room that night watching the first baseball in more than a week.
Our biggest connection has always been baseball and this game was a healing moment for both of us, even though we hadn’t been directly affected by the attacks.
It meant baseball was back. It meant that life, as we’d known it, was slowly coming back.
When Piazza stepped up in the eighth, the Braves were leading 2-1 and appeared to have the game in hand.
It was a game that the Braves wanted to win, but more so a game that New York needed to win.
The entire city of New York needed a win.
Piazza gave them that win when he hit a monster two-run homer to deep center field to put the club ahead.
I still get goosebumps every time I hear the crack off Piazza's bat. Just knowing how important that home run was, and still is, to so many people makes it all the more memorable.
Piazza’s long-ball wound up being the difference as the Mets took the game 3-2 to begin the long, and likely never-ending, healing process for New York.
Both teams proved that night that no matter what the cause for delay—be it a long, cold offseason or something far more serious and sinister—baseball players belong on the field.