Lincicome: Baseball is back. And baseball is welcome.

Bigger bases, pitch clocks, banned shifts, tick, tick, tinker, tinker, it is still baseball. And it is welcome.

Thursday is the day, Opening Day, and opening evening, too, the Cubs at Wrigley, the Sox in Houston, and somewhere Ernie Banks must be thinking, let's play 15.

Welcome back to baseball's calming lack of urgency, its lazy promise of matching tomorrows, its long and linked memories, its threads to common culture, its reminder of what we were and what we are.

Who would understand the mind of America must study baseball it has been famously said. This was said a long time ago.

Basketball has become incessant. Football gets all the loose wagers. Hockey seems unconsciously content on its melting ponds. Baseball squirms for modern relevance. And now a pitch clock ticks to just get on with it. The heart sighs.

No need for all this. Speeding up baseball is like adding horseradish to a hot dog, possible but nuts.

Baseball longs to be what it cannot, what it should not care to be. The once treasured autograph is no longer a souvenir, it is collateral. Fantasy leagues are more real than the American and National. Betting parlors are next door and ballpark signage endorses Pete Rose's sin

Baseball should not sweat its significance in a world where reality comes with loud liars and hectic news crawls while the Constitution struggles to be taken seriously. Sanity comes with two short words.



As long as the game is played, the game will be played. Not all the hand wringers and passing landlords and video replays can ruin baseball any more than careless fear and rigid suspicion can change the character of liberty.

Baseball is our anchor. We need to know some things will be there. Unless fools replace the pitcher's mound or hide home plate, nothing essential changes. Today is as full of possibility as the next pitch.

The world may boil in its own insanity. Owners can threaten, players can pout, fans can fret, baseball's soul speaks in simple syllables. Ball. Strike. Safe. Out.

Only the accessories of baseball clutter the view, the users, the egos, the self-servers, the human appetites. They cannot harm the game, only each other. The game, like free choice, shines clear and grand as ever.

Baseball's great gift is to show us possibilities, varied and endless. The pitcher must throw the ball. It all starts there, if now a little sooner than necessary.

There is a fair chance for each side. Baseball is where this vital recipe is kept safe. What happens next is nothing, or it is everything. It is the knowing and the not knowing that makes the moment.

It is a measure of significance when a man's failures are as notable as his accomplishments. Thus appreciation for the .300 hitter. The curse and the glory of baseball is the same as facing each uncertain day. It is the scarcity of success that gives the achievement value.

If baseball had Shohei Ohtani pitching to Aaron Judge all the time, baseball would be, after all, the NBA Finals, or the Olympic 100-meter dash. Baseball would have what it so dearly wants, urgency, edge of the seat excitement, clear and immediate answers for a generation that won't wait, not just until next year, but not wait until the next inning. We have enough howling impatience on the 24-hour news channels.

It is not the pace of baseball that misses the next generation, but the next generation that is missing the pace of baseball

Baseball does not assault the senses, it invigorates them. It does not need to be amplified or scoreboard enhanced or news crawled.

Football is not life. Baseball is life. It is addition. It is anticipation. It is showing up and failing more often than not. It is appreciating the successes and accepting the balance. Life is hitting .250 this week and .600 the next.

Baseball is a scrapbook and not a video. Its best moments are saved and not choreographed.

It is a game of catch between yesterday and tomorrow.

Baseball is fine. Baseball is back. And baseball is welcome.

White Sox's Luis Robert dives and catches a a fly ball from Pittsburgh Pirates' Jacob Stallings during a game last August. Bernie Lincicome says baseball is a game of catch between yesterday and tomorrow. Associated Press
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