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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Opening Day: A Baseball Tradition

Today was Opening Day for major league baseball.  As much as I truly enjoy the other sports throughout the year, baseball is different.  Basketball, football and hockey each have their supporters and detractors.  Beyond that NASCAR, boxing, MMA, soccer are relegated even further into narrower niches, although their fan base is expanding.  But baseball is universal; for young and old, male and female, across the racial and ethnic barriers and back, baseball lives in our hearts.

Just in time, National Review has a new sports blog called Right Field that began today.  Here is how their opening post began,
The facts of life are conservative, and in no sphere is that truism more manifest than in the world of sport.
In the games we play, the same rules are meant to apply to all — and we are outraged at the injustice when they are not. There are winners and losers, and we don’t agonize over the self-esteem of those who do not prevail: we expect them to learn from defeat and improve. Sports train the body and mind, and channel what might otherwise be destructive energies toward an affirming purpose.
Not your normal sports blog, it will bring to mind hearing George Will expound on the virtues of the Green Monster in Fenway Park.  Perhaps you remember  the SNL sketch George Will's Sports Machine.  Funny stuff.  This might not be your cup of tea, but I like it.

As for our Opening Day in St. Louis, it was not a successful day.  Without Adam Wainwright, there is a tremendous amount of pressure to win every game Chris Carpenter starts.  Losing his first one is not promising.  The game did go into extra innings, so the fans, as they always do on Opening Day, got their money's worth.

No other team in any other sport does a home opener quite like the St. Louis Cardinals.  I can't help but imagine the jealousy of the players on the opposing team as they see how St. Louis treats its baseball royalty.  The Cardinals will never be able to outbid other teams for the services of the top players in baseball, but opening day is worth more than money in the eyes of a lot of players. 

I hope our 'el Hombre', Albert Pujols doesn't forget that as the season goes on.  The difference between $25 and $30 million a year is probably less than what he will pay his agent for his next contract.  Here, he knows where he stands with the Cardinals and with Cardinal Nation; in the unknown there, not so much.  The distance between here and there may not be worth the journey - even for a few million a year more.

To everyone else, I say find someway to participate in baseball this year.  Playing, coaching, umpiring, keeping score and even working the concession stand at the local little league field should never be jobs that go looking for someone to fill them.  There are way too many memories and moments of exhilarating joy awaiting you at the ball park.  Don't miss them.

Play ball!

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