January 1, 2012
For most everyone, the New Year signifies something different. For most, that meaning is found in some variation of a new beginning. The New Year is an undefined void lurking in our collective paths. However, it is looked upon with mainly an attitude of optimism and glee. It is simply a load of wet clay ready to be sculpted. Only imagination serves to hinder what the New Year can possibly be. Such is especially true with Baseball fans.
Baseball is unique from America's other three major sports (Football, Hockey, and Basketball) in that the New Year is never mid season. In all of the other three sports, the season begins in one year and the champion is crowned in the subsequent year. Thus, the level of optimistic hope held by Baseball fans during the New Year is rivaled only by that of Opening Day. Most Baseball fans are either praying for Opening Day to arrive quickly, or hoping that their team can win that year's World Series. However, to ballhawks it has its own unique meaning.
To the ballhawks of this site, New Year is an especially significant day. As you may or may not have noticed in previous years, the change of the years is also when the New Ballhawking season officially begins. Yes, there is not an opportunity to catch balls until March, but this is the day where all of the statistics on the site are wiped clean and there are zeroes across the board. On January, 1, 2012, you are now tied with Zack Hample (zackhample) for Total Balls. You now have caught just as many Home Runs balls as Tim Anderson (gu3). All (insert number of users as of January, 1, 2012) of us are tied for 1st Place in every category.
For those of us who plan to attend Spring Training, it marks the approximated half-way point to the beginning of games, which may or may not be a good thing. For the rest of us, it is a not so friendly reminder that although we have survived 2 months without Baseball, there are still 3 months left to go before we can even think of attending a game. However, this should serve as a road mark to all regular ballhawks that the time for preparation is NOW.
Whatever it is you are willing to do beforehand to make 2012 the best season ever, must be at least begun if not expedited. An example from my own preparation: This is when I start looking planning for a late June trip, the hope being, I finish by Opening Day and the planning never consumes my life/day. I myself am a habitual procrastinator, but I know that with my schedule in March and April, I will be miserable if I put off the planning for this trip until then. Other things that you want to plan really depend on your unique situation. The more sedentary ballhawks naturally have less planning to do, and it will also be of a different nature. If you move around from stadium to stadium more, your planning will probably be more research oriented, whereas, if you are a more stationary ballhawk, you will want to think up ways to maintain or build upon your success at your hometown ballpark. Perhaps you need to find a way to fund going to all these games. Whatever the case may be, the New Year reminds us that it is the time to get on it.
Finally, to the busy ballhawk: Although the offseason may seem endless, remember that the New Year means you only have 3 months to enjoy whatever the perks of not going to baseball games are. This goes back to that old adage of being a soldier in a war; "It is 95% doing nothing much and wanting to fight and 5% sheer terror and wanting to go back to being bored." Although the proportions are not quite that skewed with Baseball, and you have almost no chance of losing your life, remember that time, however brief it may be, where you were sick of having your life being consumed by going to Baseball games and wanted to quit ballhawking. Memory of these times can be difficult with this perpetual lifelessness of the time, but the memory may help to cherish the moment of now that much more.
Ultimately, the New Year is what you make it to be. I hope this didn't sound too instructive, and I know I left tons of things out that the New Year could mean to you. Whatever it may be that New Year is for you I hope it is something from which you can maintain a sense of optimism and grow from.
Mateo Fischer is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com and also maintains a Blog.