Monday, March 31, 2008

Baseball's Opening Day

There's nothing like opening day. When you're a fan of a Major League Baseball team, or even a fan of the Pirates, Royals, or Rays, opening day signifies hope, possibility, and dreams of a World Series title.

Of course, if you're a fan of a long suffering franchise -- as I am being a Phillies fan -- it signifies hope, yes, but also the inevitable stress of a six month marathon season.

A baseball season can be torture for fans like me. All decade long we've been following a Phillies team that has been oh so close, yet oh so far. Good enough to compete and make it interesting, but not good enough to get over the hump.

The big hump that is.

Last year, they rallied from down seven games to pass the Mets with just 17 games to do it, without even needing a playoff game. That in itself, regardless of their quick exit from the playoffs, made the season a sweet success.

But that's just it. As great as that division title was, getting swept by Colorado in the NLDS still felt like a sucker punch.

The beauty of course, there's always next year -- or this year, I guess. The many nights I'll be nervously following games on Yahoo, waiting anxiously for the screen to refresh in the late innings hoping the Phils get a big hit, or prevent one.

Spending early mornings on the drive into work listening to the 4:00am ESPN Radio Sportscenter to get the score from the night before -- a method of getting the game result that I sometimes prefer, as suffering through a loss the night of the game causes a bit more of a restless sleep.

The inevitable feelings of joy following the comeback win that will be followed the next day by a giveaway loss.

Or the thoughts of, "I'm done with this team" after a bad stretch of games in May, only to be followed by the thoughts of, "this is their year" after a road series sweep in June.

To my wife and kids, I apologize for the 65-75 days this season that I'll be a little bit grumpier than usual. But, hopefully, there will be 87-97 days that hugs will last a few seconds longer than usual, too.

Let's face it, the season is a roller coaster. Fans all across the country are standing in line, very close to the start. Allt hrough spring training, we've been slowly making our way through the queue, and now that opening day is here, all we need to do now is get onboard, buckle up and get ready for the wild ride.

Or a wildcard ride. I'm not picky.

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