I write about basketball and I love basketball. The athleticism, the flow of the game and the moments when the outcome hangs in the balance. But this roundballer grew up in a sandlot like many children all around the world.
There was a time in my life where I lived for the feel of the hard sand underneath my cleats while I stared down the batter from third base. I was on my toes praying he would hit a screamer down the third-base line so I could dive to my right, eat some dirt and throw him out at first.
I loved everything about baseball. I loved sitting on the bench and watching the game and I loved hitting the ball to the fence and even striking out. But then something happened at the beginning of last year and I lost my love.
Now I am on a mission, with the help of Luis Medina, Stile Smith and the other baseball enthusiasts I know, to reclaim my love for the sport.
For some reason, I started focusing on all of the negatives of the game last year. I thought players were paid too much, I thought I could care less about steroids and didn't want to hear anymore conversations about them. I didn't understand why we praised hitters when they failed 7 out of 10 times.
I didn't know why I would sit and watch a three-hour game for 15 minutes of actual action. I didn't know why baseball was putting asterisks next to the records set by men who took steroids but continued to honor records set by men who didn't want to play with people because of the color of their skin.
I was just fed up with the game and lost my passion for what I used to hold so dear. And it was sad because I saw my favorite team, the Chicago Cubs, win 97 games and a second consecutive division championship, but I just didn't care all that much.
So on the eve of spring training, it is my hope I can find my old friend. I feel like baseball is a best friend I had a nasty fight with, but there is always a second chance and I think this season could be it.
Instead of focusing on the money, drugs and politics involved in the game, I am going to try to focus on the grass, the sunshine, the crackerjacks and the seventh inning stretches. The greatness in the game is still there, but it is buried under a pile of dirt higher than a pitcher's mound.
So when the Cubs take the field tomorrow, I will feel a little excited again, but I don't think I will love the game. I will be focused on the Milwaukee Bucks needing a win in Dallas. But slowly and surely, with the help of the baseball experts here and maybe even some advice from you the reader, I will once again love the game.
And throughout the season, for as long as it takes, I will update this series until my love for the game is once again found.
After all, I miss the feeling I got when me and my dad watched Kerry Wood hit a double against the Atlanta Braves during the 2003 playoffs that led to a win. I'm right here baseball, come back and get me.