Spring is back and so is baseball

There is no place like Michigan in spring. While the weather can be a tad unpredictable (snow in April, c’mon!), the area really cannot be matched.

This year’s unexpected 80 degree weather in mid-March allowed for the grass to green a little earlier and the buds on trees to bloom just a little sooner, giving everybody the cue that spring is around the corner.

While there are seasonal cues that indicate spring, the real cue that spring has arrived in Michigan is that the Detroit Tigers have headed north from spring training to begin another season on the diamond.

To me, the Tigers are more than just a baseball team or something to occupy three hours of my time on summer nights.

The Tigers are memories. Not of seeing the greenest grass that I had ever seen during my first trip to Tiger Stadium when I was 7 years old.

Not of Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker turning double plays, Cecil Fielder hitting long home runs or even the rollercoaster rides that was a Todd Jones save attempt.

The Tigers are riding in the car with my dad to Tiger Stadium, thinking the 35-minute car ride was going to take 35 years.

They are those rare occasions when my dad would pull me out of school to play hooky with him at Tiger Stadium.

They are listening to George Kell and Al Kaline on the TV or Ernie Harwell on the radio for those non-televised games, which for the young baseball-crazed man that I was, any Tiger game that was not on television was a crime against humanity.

They are hearing my father’s generation wax poetically about the 1984 run to the World Series Championship, while my grandfather’s generation would inject that the 1968 run to the World Championship was better because in 1968, the game was better, more pure.

But then again, if you asked my grandfather, everything was better in 1968.

Today, that is what I think about when I get excited during every cold Michigan winter for the upcoming season.

While Justin Verlander throwing flames and Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder hitting home runs has me plenty excited for the action on the field in 2012, memories already made and those yet to come are why I cannot wait to get down to Comerica Park.

It’s why I will perform the same rituals with my children that my father performed with me.

You can have the NFL, but I still will contend to my dying day that baseball is the pastime of this country and that’s the way it will always be.