A Day of Seasonal Rebirth
Okay, we are about eight hours away from the first “real” pitch of 2009. I find it kind of exciting that the current World Champions will debut on the first ESPN telecast trying to again go 162 games and then through the playoffs to regain a spot where they can defend their title. So here we are at the perfect 0-0 record that will forever change in our hearts and minds after tonight. It really doesn’t matter to me who wins this contest, because we all win just by having baseball “live” on the television, radio and on MLB.TV again this year. But there is also sorrow involved in this day. For by 3 pm today, some Major League dreams will be realized, and some will have a last second free fall back into the minor league system of their teams or back home to rethink their baseball futures.
I remember once reading a quote by newly inducted Baseball Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson on Spring Training. He said, “This S### don’t count, This S### doesn’t go on their bubble gum card.” And that is so true of what today truly means. We are finally over with the pretend games, and are about to embark on the quest for greatness that all 30 MLB teams strive for when we report in February each season. I always look forward to this time of the year for many reasons. Be it the time to purchase that new Rays cap, or uniform top, or to know that I will again be in my second home for the next several months enjoying the sights and sounds of Tampa Bay Rays baseball.
But I know that everyone enjoys this time of the year for different reasons. It can be a time of renewal and anxious anticipation for some, and also could be the dark cloud precursor to impending doom and gloom for the people who have doubts and fears about their team. But the first day should always be a day of pure hope and joy. It is the time when the record is clean, and you have endless possibilities in front of you for the coming year. But with this game tonight also come a level of peril and uncertainty to the season. We are now going to have to came to the realization that some of our team’s goals and aspirations might falter after today. We will lose games, I do not think any of us has a dream of 162-0 for the year. Well, people outside of New York do not think like that. But will the joy of April become dismal in May or June, or can we keep this train running all the way to late October?
But that is what today is all about people. Plain and simple and with no sugar-coating, tonight’s game is about rebirth and renewal of expectations for all of our teams. Be it the rookie starting the third and second for the San Francisco Giants, or the unproven starters at the bottom of the Oakland A’s rotation. There are hopes and dreams of success and the failures of our rivals. Will the experiment work out in New York by both the Mets and Yankees, or is the swapping of left fielders in Philadelphia a plus or minus in the long run. Questions will be answered, and not all of them will have the results we want to hear this season. Everyone knows who is favored, and who is considered the also-rans.
But every year and also-ran take the reins and runs wild for a period of time shocking not only baseball, but the world with their unity and chemistry. I love that the media has exploded the phrase “This year’s Rays” out to the masses like the team might not be as good, or better in 2009? I remember Mark Newman, our guru talking about predictions yesterday in my blog entry. In it he stated, ” Actually no one knows anything and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. We all have theories based on various data and intangibles and sentiments, but at the end of the day this is the most competitive balance in Major League history and any of 30 teams can go to the World Series. I should know, I have spent eight years now writing the words “shock the world” over and over on MLB.com. It’s why everyone is fired up this year.”
That summarized it all up in one neat paragraph. We all want to be that psychic that can tell you the future by just following the numbers or the trends. But as Newman hinted at in his remarks, this year I think the facts and figures hide the more important aspect of baseball in 2009. We might not have the parity element that the NFL has been moving towards in the last 5 years, but the differences in the 30 teams beliefs for the season actually make each strong in their own sense of the word. This is the time of the year where the hype is set high, and the possibility of failure is reduced to almost zero. But that is true human nature. We are creatures of a society that craves winners. And for that reason, we have to be totally positive and ooze confidence vibes to survive the intial storm of the season.
I do not have all the answers. I always give my opinions on here and either you like them or hate them. I have been lucky to not attract a huge amount of negative comments and attacks, but they do come, and I do not shy from them. That is the greatest thing about being a baseball fan. You can love the fact that David Price is a budding superstar, and that he will control the mound for the coming years. That could be true, but in the same vein, we can disagree on his starting the season in the minors and both exist tog
ether in the stands and cheer for the team. But all that is moot for tonight. For tonight is the true essence of baseball. The first game will be held in the same stadium that saw its home team celebrate their World Series victory.
Emotions will be high in the stands in Philly. We will see a multitude of emotions in that first moments of the game. From tears to cheers, to the barrage of flash bulbs lighting up the night for a brief moment during that first pitch. Tonight is about the celebration of baseball………….pure and simple. And I know myself, like millions of fans watching from our collective living rooms around the country will all have a moment of true emotion during tonight’s game. But as the Rays showed on the wall of the Budweiser Brewhouse during February’s Fan Fest, The Playoff number is set at 162 tonight, it is the time for every team to start to take those first steps towards their own dreams of raising that trophy into the cool Fall night. For tonight we start another great chapter in our baseball lives…..version 2009, let’s hope that everyone can see the magic and the possibilities as endless, if not just for one night.