by Pete Mazzaccaro

April is the cruellest month, breeding,
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
– T.S. Elliot “The Waste Land”

I’m not one to quote T.S. Elliot in the editorial section of a community weekly, but I’m feeling a certain kinship with the opening lines of “The Waste Land,” albeit my feelings towards April are (happily) not nearly as grim as those expressed in Elliot’s masterpiece

First, I’m glad for the change in weather. As I write this editorial, the thermometer is tacked at just about 70 degrees. Expectations are that it will hit 80 by this afternoon. Last week I was wearing a down jacket and a wool hat, fending off cold northerly winds as I walked my kids to school.

This week my kids are wearing shorts to school. I left the jacket at home and stored the hat. Flowers are blooming in front of the house and a pesky sparrow keeps building its nest in my drier vent. No matter how often I pull the dry grass and feathers out of the vent, the bird just doesn’t get it. (I finally fixed the issue Sunday by repairing a lid for the vent to keep the birds out.)

Spring has sprung. But the explosion of the wonderful weather makes the tasks of working indoors more onerous. It makes office work difficult, not unlike what Elliot must have felt after being ordered indoors by several doctors for treatment of various ailments he suffered while writing his poem. April right now is indeed cruel.

And it is yet even more cruel for those of us who enjoy welcoming spring in Philadelphia with baseball. (Here I think the Elliot comparison fails. I doubt he was a baseball fan).

The Phillies, a team with perhaps diminished promise, but promise nonetheless, has opened its season 2-5. And worse than that, the team’s top two pitchers have been miserable.

Cole Hamels, a World Series MVP in 2008 is 0-2 with a 10.97 ERA. Roy Halladay, who not long ago was considered the best pitcher in baseball, has the same record and a massive 14.73 ERA. Pitching, that on which the Phillies season depended, has fallen on its face at the starting gate.

Now a baseball season is long, and the Phillies can easily change their fortunes in the 155 games that remain. But to quote another wise man – Yogi Berra – it gets late early. A long baseball season can feel a lot longer if the Phillies continue their losing ways. At this rate, April will seem to last forever.

So what, right? There’s more to life than baseball. True, but good baseball certainly makes the spring more enjoyable for many of us. It looks right now that we’re going to have to do without good baseball this spring.

The good news? At least that will make it easier to stay indoors and slave away at your desk (for those of us who work indoors). You might look out your window and wonder what it would feel like to be out on the sidewalk or on a bike in the Wissahickon.

But you won’t be wondering what it would be like to kick your feet up in a half-empty Citizens Bank Park for a daytime game. You won’t mind missing that.

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