27 Feb 2017
Baseball is back. And not a moment too soon. Sure, the MLB regular season doesn’t officially begin until April 2—highlighted by an Opening Night prime-time battle between my World Series Champion Chicago Cubs and the Cardinals—but, in case you didn’t notice, Spring Training games kicked off this weekend.
This week I’m taking a break from the Chicago winter to attend a few Cubs games in Arizona (in addition to playing a few rounds of golf, soaking up some much-needed sun, and firing up my fair share of cigars). I’m happy to say my family and I will be at Sloan Park to see the Cubs take on the White Sox and Angels. We can’t wait.
Most years, spring is the best time for Cubs fans—when hopes are high, everyone is in first place, and you just can’t help but wonder if “next year” is finally here. The feeling is a lot different this year as the Cubs look to defend their title (though, to be sure, expectations are still incredibly high).
The arrival of Spring Training also serves as an annual signal that a long winter is coming to an end. While here in Chicago we no doubt still have some tough weather ahead, the first sighting of the squad taking the field on TV is a symbol that a corner has finally been turned. They days get longer. The temperatures slowly but surely begin to rise. And, with any luck, those brief glimpses of sun start to become more frequent.
These changes also portend good news for the cigar enthusiast community. Winter’s end brings improved conditions for cigar smoking as well as cigar storage. Whether you like baseball or not, I think we can all get behind the fact that spring should be welcomed with open arms.
If you’re anything like me, though, you’re a devoted baseball fan and an appreciator of the complementary nature of cigars and America’s pastime. Baseball and cigars are such a wonderful pairing. Unlike faster-paced sports and sports that are played indoors or out in the cold, baseball is meant to take place outside under natural summer sunlight. Nowadays, most teams play most games under the lights. But when I think baseball, I think suntan lotion, floppy hats, peanuts, cold beer, and frosty malts at Wrigley.
I also think relaxation. While many criticize baseball for its lazy pauses between pitches, batters, and innings, I’ve always enjoyed those breaks. They give you the opportunity to study the game and have conversations with friends and family. Is this a hit-and-run scenario? Would the opposing manager consider a pitch-out with this count? How does this hitter fare against left-handers? Are they drawing the infield in to guard against a bunt, or are they staying at double-play depth? The answers to such questions are better pondered over premium tobacco.
That’s one of the reasons why, when I can’t be at Wrigley Field, I do most of my baseball watching at home. You’ll find me outside listening to the broadcast on the radio and/or watching the action live on my laptop via MLB TV. The atmosphere is perfect. Cigars are welcome and plentiful, and the beers are more modestly priced. And nothing pairs better with a Cubs win than a fine cigar.
photo credit: Flickr