Today is the day. The winter winds have blown their last, the sun has broken through the clouds, and grown men will swagger onto emerald green fields to play a childs game. Today is Opening Day and all is again right with the world.
As I’ve said before, besides the things that actually matter in life, baseball is my favorite thing. Its more than just my favorite sport, because its more than the actual game that I love. Its fathers and sons having a catch. Its America in a more innocent time. Its lazy Saturday afternoons with a game on the radio. Its old newreels of stadiums full of men relaxing at the ballpark in their suits and top hats. Its the background noise of summer. Its the history of it, the sights of it, the smells of it, the familiarity of it. And even the heartbreak of it.
As a lifelong, die-hard Angels fan (we’ll leave the rest of their ridiculous name out of this for now) my rooting was defined by the disappointments and shocking let-downs of 1986 and 1995. Those bitter memories were finally dashed in 2002 when a scrappy, hard-nosed, heavenly host of Angels finally broke the 41 year drought. Baseball always seems aware of its own history and irony. The final out of the 2002 World Series was caught by Darin Erstad in centerfield of Angels Stadium, directly in front of the 1986 American League West Champions banner. In that single instant the pain of the past and the joy of the present brushed past each other on the road of history and a franchise excercised its demons and was reborn. Comparitively speaking, there are teams that may have, or had at the time, a more valid claim on the woe caused by that elusive World Series ring. But, I’m an Angels fan so they can wait their turn.
As the spring has sprung, teams will take the field with “that hope which springs eternal in the human breast”, to steal a line from Casey At The Bat, which was stolen from Alexander Pope, that they will be the ones hoisting the World Series trophy in October. Fans across the nation will live and die, if not by the newspaper box score and the radio as in the old days, then by the Bottom Line and DirectTv Extra Innings. The delivery may have changed, but the love of the game, at least mine, has remained constant.
AL West: Angels NL West: Dodgers
AL East: Red Sox NL East: Mets
AL Central: Tigers NL Central: Cubs
AL Wild Card: Indians NL Wildcard: Brewers
World Series: Angels over Mets