The Greatest Words In The English Language

Published 4:18 pm Thursday, March 1, 2012

Few words in the English language possess such magic as these: pitchers and catchers report.

More than budding daffodils and shadow-less groundhogs, that collation of vowels and consonants begins to spell farewell to winter's fell clutches and 'Hey, how are you' to spring.

Florida has been full of pitchers and catchers who migrated south, with Arizona equally resplendent with those who journeyed desertward, since February 19 and spring training games begin in earnest this weekend.

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Don't tinker forever with chance. Let those games begin their heaven-sent tick-tock toward Opening Day, fulfilling the Holy declaration that opens wide the Bible: In the big inning.

Which is the religious equivalent of the umpire's glad declaration to “Play ball!”

The genesis of all our hopes and World Series dreams.

I knew baseball had to be divinely inspired.

Amid winter's destitute squalor of browns and grays, the vision of American and National League teams packing their gear in 18-wheelers outside the gates of Fenway, Wrigley or Comerica-perhaps even the new Yankee Stadium-colors our world in ways that Michelangelo's brushstrokes could only hint at on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

But he took a hack at it and we can forgive his grounding out weakly to second, vision-wise. At least Big Mich swung his paintbrush and didn't stand there like the house by the side of the road and watch it all go by. He ended up flat on his back, heckled by the Pope, yes, but he gave it a rip.

As most of us do.

Even today I expect at any moment to receive a news-flashing email that a letter has been found, penned by William Shakespeare, grievously lamenting that he never began a play with the words “pitchers and catchers report,” berating himself that Twelfth Night wasn't about the seventh game of the World Series, and that Romeo And Juliet was a romance, not about the best keystone combination of all time.

Likewise, I anticipate news that research has proved Mozart and Beethoven both remonstrated vehemently with themselves privately for having bothered to compose symphonies and sonatas but without producing Take Me Out To The Ballgame.

Still, they wrote a tune or two.

Perhaps most fitting would be learning that, during this the bicentennial of his birth, Charles Dickens once told his publisher that the worst literary gaffe he ever committed was failing to make New York and Boston, in October, the focal point of A Tale Of Two Cities, rather than London and Paris during the French Revolution.

The saddest words of pencil or pen are simply these: it might have been.

Still, Chuck spun a decent yarn or two.

Of course, there was one Dickens novel just waiting to describe the hopes of all baseball fans as we head into spring training toward a 2012 yet unblemished by the reality of loss:

Great Expectations.

Give us eight months, however, and most of us will look with forlorn hope toward the spring of 2013, the words “wait until next year” speaking to our broken baseball hearts.

Well, this year is next year.

Swing from the heels

Smile from the bottom of your soles.