Yesterday, my wife and I were out taking a walk since the weather was starting to break and amidst the sounds of a kid hammering out the drum, it seemed like spring was getting here quickly. And with that, what better way to start the baseball season than to look out back and see the green (well, ok, it's brown) grass on my own lawn and to figure out how to get the rest of this snow melted so that I can sit out in the Siesta Zone on Friday afternoon after another week is over (hopefully, with gainful employment on the horizon as a warm almost 60 degree day basks the winter blues and cabin fever away.
Nevertheless, everything is born again except for Albert Pujols' future with the Cardinals as he rejected the Cardinals offer a few weeks ago. However, since Albert isn't paying my bills, I'll reflect on how my wife’s flowers are blossoming. Well, at least the snow drops are. Someday soon, I look forward to seeing the cherry tree that I bought her last year as an early birthday present getting brough back to life in brilliant pinks and lights reds. The magnolia tree is incredible when it opens as well. The whites go well with the yellows of other bushes that I haven’t learned the names of, and the tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils are poking through the former owner’s less than manicured “gardens.” It's not Longwood Gardens, but we can dream that someday, it will be.
Last year, the Giants won the whole show by beating up on a surprising Texas in a World Series that someone had to win for the first time (while the New York Giants won before, the San Francisco Giants never did). After that, it was all over. The city by the bay made the Freak and Matt Cain their heroes. Cody Ross and Brian Wilson were the knights in shining armor. This year, I really want to have aspirations for Boston’s hitters. I do see them getting better with Carmeron and Gonzalez, but they still have JD Drew and an aging Ortiz that saw better seasons prior to 2008. Kevin Youkilis is fine, but I still wonder who they're kidding with a well-aged Jason Varitek who made have leadership and game calling, but other than that... However, with John Lackey and Josh Beckett being high salary question marks, it’s time to believe in offense again because Theo's grand defensive plans of last year and a ton of injuries equaled third place. And I'm not even getting into how we STILL haven’t solved shortstop since Orlando Cabrerra was allowed to pack his bags for elsewhere.
As for the Yankees, I'm sure they'll make a play for Pujols next year since their signings were ancient has beens and never weres from the early 2000s and an overpaid set up man from Tampa Bay. Eric Chavez. Garbage. Mark Prior. The Cubs killed his career before he had a chance to prove it. Bartolo Colon? Are we going to pair him with CC to see who the biggest loser is? Freddy Garcia? Didn't we learn anything from signing Kerry Wood and Lance Berkman at the break last year?
Yep. It’s baseball season. Break out the Yuengling and the pretzels. Life is good. I’m ready to see them all play. It’s going to be a great 2011 with the Phillies taking on the Red Sox in the World Series, which I happily admit will be a good series for the Red Sox unless the Phillies decide to make a play for offense - i.e. Michael Young. All the same, it’s one of those years where potential looms, but more than ever, it seems to be a year where the youth of the game establishes itself for a rebalancing of power as the old guard (Atlanta, Anaheim, and both New York teams) slip further away from contention.
Nevertheless, Despite not playing and having spent my little league career watching from the bench, I became a master of card collecting for those eighties pre-steroid years. My heroes either saw their stats eclipsed or lost due to asterisks. The heroes of the past were all bent up and tattered at the edges and worth slightly less. As time went by, I took to APBA Baseball, but lost the 1980 and 1982 sets to a 1999 fire. Now, I’ve been reading the previews magazines religiously since I took Derek Jeter’s face to California in 1997 with the mission that I would get back into baseball, which would allow me to reacquaint myself with America after living in England from December 27, 1990, to July 8, 1996. And it worked. I found Mark McGwire, Larry Walker, Randy Johnson, and Kevin Brown and a guy named Renteria who hit one through to beat the Indians. I found Willie, Ty Cobb, and Joltin’ Joe Dimaggio. By 1998, the time was now, and while it’s not like it’s a year where records are predicted to fall, it still feels like now. The time is T-minus 8 hours and 20 minutes.
The veterans and the rookies are still there. The old haggard faces with their gloves of steel that they’ve worn for many years, and memories of a pair of hot rookies named Strasburg and Heyward trying to create some glory in their respective towns. Alongside of him, a guy named Jurrjens wants to come back from some rough times with injuries and be Maddux at the center of a greate Braves rotation. It could very well happen.
Will Jose Bautista be the first homerun of the year, or will it be Joey Votto? Will Jeter or Jacoby give the ball a ride to the bullpen in right field? Will Big Papi start a campaign to not go off into the sunset by hitting the Dunkin Donuts sign? I eagerly anticipate it all.
Here’s to 2011. Let John Fogerty sound and let the Cactus and Grapefrut League games begin!