I can’t help feel the anticipation rising as pitchers and catchers report in less than a week. Such an event sparks a ray of hope and excitement in baseball fans everywhere, as it isn’t just the Cub’s fans that have been saying “just wait til next year”. Every year as the “magic number” dwindles to zero and eliminates your favorite team from playoff contention, or out of the playoffs, all eyes turn to the hope of what can happen in the offseason.
All winter long I scour the transaction pages to see where the minor league players that I had watch play (either for the Isotopes, or against them) end up, either via trade, free agency, retirement, taking their chances in leagues overseas, etc. Then the arbitration deadline, trades, and free agent signings at the major league level, all start to rebuild a hope as I watch the “new” team evolve…what is the new rotation, who will be the expected starters, and what positions, what is the batting order going to be, etc.
Ultimately, the comparisons begin…first within the divisions, did my team make enough changes to beat the “rival” team, is our team improved in the areas that they needed the most improvement, how does the team match up with the playoff teams, and for that matter how do they compare to the World Champs? Then, as the prognosticators from the websites, and magazines, and sportscasts start to make predictions, you are convinced that they haven’t been paying attention to “YOUR” team, and the improvements that have been made, unless your team is picked to win the whole thing (which I’ve never had that experience).
In just a few days….the first warmup toss will be made to usher in Spring Training…shortly thereafter the position players (as if pitcher and catcher aren’t positions) will arrive, and the spring training games begin. As “meaningless” as the scores, and records are during spring training you can’t help but get excited to see the surprising rookie, the player coming back from injury and being as “good as new”, the improvements of the “young kids” from previous years, and the homeruns produced by the 3,4 & 5 hitters.
All building up to the ultimate day of excitement…OPENING DAY….March 25, 2008 has the first game of the season..the only day of the season that all the teams have the same record…every team is just as good as the World Champs, and nobody is better than your team….although for many teams, reality comes into the room quite quickly, and the hope begins to diminish fast, but at least during this time of year, it is fun to hope, dream, and anticipate…that maybe…just maybe…
THIS WILL BE THE YEAR!!!