Behind The Scenes

Putting Opening Day on ice (briefly)

Editor’s Note: ESPN The Magazine Senior Writer Lindsay Berra covers the NHL and tennis beats. But the granddaughter of baseball legend Yogi Berra has a natural affection for the national pastime. How does she handle the convergence of the NHL playoffs and the opening ofbaseball season?

To open this blog post, I’d like everyone to sing the opening words of John Fogerty’s Centerfield, my annual anthem of spring:

Well, beat the drum and hold the phone, the sun came out today!

You’re warmer already, right? Never mind that it’s still 50 degrees in New York and there are flurries in the forecast for tomorrow. Mother Nature must be a skier. Still, the stubborn nip in the air does make it a little easier for me to think about spending the better part of the next 10 weeks in an ice rink while the boys of summer start working on their tans.

Since I was a kid, baseball and hockey have shared space in my heart. When my own seasons overlapped, I had no problem donning my skates for an early morning hockey practice and my cleats for an afternoon softball game. At the University of North Carolina, I played varsity softball and, to the chagrin of my coach, men’s club ice hockey. But once I started at ESPN The Magazine, things changed a bit.

I now find it nearly impossible to immerse myself in the NHL playoffs (that’s my job), keep tabs on the French Open (tennis is also my gig), keep an eye on the NBA playoffs (I’m a fan) and catch the Triple Crown (I’m fond of the ponies) while simultaneously following the fledgling baseball season. I’m a triathlete and have to get on the ol’ bike every once in a while. Also, I do like to see my family every now and again so they don’t forget what I look like.

The NHL playoffs begin on April 13th. Somewhere between 60 and 105 games will be played before the Stanley Cup is awarded in mid-June. When you’re flying between Calgary and Tampa Bay, Carolina and Edmonton, Anaheim and Ottawa, you bonk before you get through a single box score or SportsCenter highlight.

So yes, I have generally resigned myself to missing the first 75 or so games of the baseball season (thank goodness there are 87 more). When my friends gripe about the Yankees bullpen in early May, I usually roll my eyes and ask that they stop worrying, at least until Sid and Alex and Kobe and LeBron are all on vacation.

Still, I am very grateful that NHL travel has brought me to MLB cities on several occasions. Those visits are just enough of a reminder that baseball, no matter how long I stay away, always will welcome me back with open arms and a bag of kettle corn (it’s the best in San Fran!). Until the day in late January when nearly all of the sporting equipment I own was stolen out of my car at Newark Airport, I have kept a baseball glove in my trunk, lest anyone want to have an impromptu catch. And come spring, the sound of bats cracking will certainly warm my heart.

But for now, I’m content to be cold, and I’ll be singing a different song:

O, Canada! Our home and native land! True patriot love, in all our sons command . . .

Back to top button
Close