The year isn’t starting off very well, for those who haven’t felt the weight yet. Once 2020 ended, there was a small glimmer of hope — more faith in the idea that life would be different in some way.
It’s not. Not really, anyway. We’re seeing the same limitations as the first quarantine wave. Sports are back, but we’re seeing more cancellations than we are games. The world still feels uneasy.
It feels hard to get excited about anything, especially after the most recent baseball legend died.
On Jan. 22, long-time Braves outfielder and home run king Hank Aaron walked out of the cornfield and on to the proverbial field of dreams. The baseball world unified, as it always does, in remembrance of the king, who is renowned for changing how the game was played on and off the field.
Let’s talk about this for a second. One facet of the game that keeps it exhilarating is the intense rivalries. Whether you find yourselves on the wrong side of the Cardinals-Cubs or the right side of Red Sox-Yankees, odds are that one of your teams often faces another team that you just can’t stand. That’s the thing about sports, though: The entire point is to be better, faster and stronger than your opponent. Athletics are a high-pressure, high-intensity medium that pits the peak of human performance against itself. Deep-rooted rivalries between teams help offer a surge of competitive juices in the game that the national media passively views as dehydrated. Without rivalries and intense battles, there wouldn’t be sports — at least not as we know it.
It’s very uncommon to see unusual groups of people unite over anything. Usually, if you’re stuck to your convictions, you’re not going to budge no matter what. A phenomenon as rare as unified agreement and respect is about as rare as sighting Bigfoot water skiing off the back of the Loch Ness Monster. It’s only in the most intense moments that we see everyone come together. Whether it be the highest of achievements or the lowest of lows, extremity often is the driving force for unity among unlikely people. On the day of his passing, the entire league joined together to honor the king, even his most embittered rivals. The baseball world came together from all corners to pay respects and remember one of the most influential people to ever play the game. It was a testament not only to Hank’s impact on the game, but to the game itself. It showed that it stands for nothing but class and unity. That’s one of the reasons that I love baseball.
What’s the main reason, you ask? It’s Hank. 100%. That’s why you’re seeing another tribute (I promise it’ll be the last one). I just couldn’t let his legacy go unnoticed. I couldn’t stay silent about my hero. Growing up with ADHD and depression always made me feel small and insignificant, and seeing that someone larger than life was weaved into the fabric of what I loved the most helped drive my passion for the game. With baseball, I felt like something bigger than myself because of someone. In Hank Aaron, I saw someone who went his whole life being treated less than everyone else and fighting his way to the top of the baseball world. Even though I didn’t — and probably won’t ever — fully understand the gravity of what he went through, it gave me hope that I could conquer whatever I set my mind to, no matter what stands in my way. Because of Hank, I’m here talking to you today.
My heart broke that morning on Jan. 22 and so did the hearts of the entire baseball community. We lost one of the very forces that changed the game and made it what it is today. Hank Aaron’s legacy will continue to be felt off the field, just as much as it was felt on the field. We will miss you, Hank