Monday, April 1, 2013

It’s a beautiful day for a ballgame

No, I won’t be at U.S. Cellular Field on Monday. As much as I wouldn’t mind actually attending a ballgame, I have to work for a living and will be engaging in activities meant to bring in some income.

Starting the season on an upbeat note?
But in spirit, I’ll wish I could see for myself if the Kansas City Royals are really so improved that many of the baseball pundits aren’t being ridiculous for predicting that they will be the Second Place team behind the Detroit Tigers for 2013 – with the Chicago White Sox expected to wither away into irrelevance.

ALL THOSE MONTHS they spent in First Place in 2012? It might as well have not happened. They might well be as bad as the Chicago Cubs will be this season.

The day I have been looking forward to for the past couple of months has finally arrived. It’s Opening Day. Which means the latest version of the 162-game schedule is up and running.

It actually kicked off last night with the likely worst-in-baseball Houston Astros marking their shift to the American League with a season-beginning game against their brand-new arch-rival Texas Rangers.

For everybody else, it begins Monday.

THE ROYALS ARE in Chicago, while the Cubs will be in Pittsburgh to begin the season against the Pirates.

I’m already braced for the concept that there won’t likely be a serious pennant race involving Chicago. ’13 will be an unlucky number for those of us in the Second City.

But when it comes to the beauty of the ballgame itself, it won’t really matter. The so-called “head game” involving a pitcher confronting a hitter – with its constant back-and-forth – is something that only a simpleton could find dull.

Cubs fans hope Monday isn't career highlight
It is what makes watching baseball live a unique, and intriguing experience.

I'LL STILL WANT to get out to a few ballgames this season – and I’ll have my pick of many. Because one of the things that makes baseball so much more intriguing than any other professional sport is its daily nature.

Make a mess of a ballgame? Redemption has the potential to be only one day away!

I should point out one factor. I once wrote a commentary here mocking the Chicago Cubs for rushing along prospect Jeff Samardzija, a pitcher who once played football at Notre Dame. I was convinced that he would turn out to be as mediocre as Joe Borchard, the one-time Stanford football star who may well be one of the greatest players in the history of the Charlotte Knights – but never produced consistently for the White Sox.

I’m sure some will argue the fact that Samardzija will be the Cubs’ starting pitcher Monday against Pittsburgh is a sign that he has succeeded. Yet I can’t help but point out the Yahoo! Sports weblog Big League Stew – which rates Samardzija as the 19th best pitcher to get an Opening Day start.

THIS START COULD be the highlight of the Samardzija career – just as the 504-foot home run Borchard hit in 2004 remains the longest-hit shot ever at U.S. Cellular Field!
It seems like so long ago!

We’ll have to find the beauty of baseball this year in its small moments – and not in anticipation of any World Series celebration come early November.

Although I have to admit that this season is a little unique, since I made a point of watching much of the Caribbean Series back in February, then the World Baseball Classic in March. Which means I have been watching competitive games (albeit on television) for a couple of months. It makes Opening Day this year feel more like a sensation of, “It’s about time!”

It also makes me wish that we could have broadcaster Ernesto Jerez as a part of the scene for one of our city’s ball clubs. His enthusiasm for the game, along with that home run call, would definitely add some joy!


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