Happy Opening Day!

I should hate baseball.

I played it when I was little and stopped playing because I got bored -- and I was a shortstop.

I grew up in Northeast Ohio, which means I was born into a Cleveland Indians household.  They haven't won a championship since 1948 and have managed to find perhaps the most torturous way to lose the World Series in 1997.

There's no salary cap, so the players make ridiculous sums of money, paid by teams in large metropolitan areas who can afford to spend freely.  There's no such thing as parity.  The one year that there was even an ounce of it (the rule this year that teams had to give up draft picks as compensation for signing certain free agents) is already being taken away.

I really should hate baseball.

But I don't.  I love it.

Part of my love of baseball comes from the fact that there are an endless number of scenarios to think about.  I over think pretty much everything, but that's not even possible with baseball.  Every player, every position, every team, every manager, every general manager -- they all have stats and histories that can be dug into forever.  Trying to figure out any given moment in a baseball game is crazy, yet it's what we do.  People predict pitches, for god's sake.

It's a smart game.  There's so much strategy in any given baseball game, it puts all other sports to shame.  What the non-fan sees as a long, boring game, the fan realizes is a carefully executed, thoughtfully considered chess match involving a whole slew of people.

It's a long season.  Having the best starting nine in the line-up or the best starting five in the rotation at the beginning of the year ultimately means nothing.  Players get hurt, players have slumps, trades are made -- the
season is so long that even the worst team has an outside shot, even if it's not a particularly good one.

As my friend Matt pointed out, baseball is the only major sport that has no clock.  Baseball games end with the 27th out, which means you can keep playing as long as you earn it.  That is where optimism comes from.  There's cause and effect at work.  If you do well, you can make up any deficit; you're not fighting the other team and the clock.

Baseball reflects society.  That's not always a good thing, but more so than any other sport in America, it reflects our culture.  It changes as we do.  The history of the sport is the history of our country and I've always been fascinated by history.

Opening Day is always a holiday for me.  I take the day off and I watch 12 to 14 hours of baseball (with breaks here and there).  Being on the west coast, I can roll out of bed and start watching, as games sometimes start as early as 9 AM (the first game is at 10 this year).

April 1st.  The world is bright and shiny.  The impossible seems possible.  The flaws are dulled by optimism.

Baseball is back.