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Monday, April 05, 2004

Opening Day: Never mind the two-game series in Japan and the made-for-TV game last night, today marks the beginning of the baseball regular season. Opening day has always been one of anticipation and excitement for baseball fans, as all teams have a shot at having a great season and making a play-off run. And as much as some (myself included) may lament the dominance of certain teams in baseball, I believe that at least twenty (and maybe more) teams have a legitimate shot at not only making the play-offs, but also winning the World Series.

Look at the past three seasons. In 2003, the Florida Marlins came from nowhere, capitalizing on great young pitching, a few key free agent signings, and a wise managerial change to defeat the giant Yankees. In 2002, it was the Anaheim Angels coming from nowhere to defeat the Giants and Barry Bonds in a thrilling Series. In 2001, the duo of Schilling and Johnson carried Arizona to a seventh game, final at-bat win. Are the Yankees always good? Yes, but they don't always win.

It seems like a long time until October (and it is-- like most professional sports, baseball's regular season goes on too long) but there is a great deal to look forward to in the mean time. Can the Cubs and red Sox live up to expectations? Will there be a "shortstop controversy" in the Bronx? What young players will step into the spotlight for the first time? Can the teams in Philadelphia, Arizona, Cleveland and Seattle bounce back and make the postseason?

Baseball needs to act quickly to dispose of the steroid scandal -- passing regulations on drug testing so that this story can be moved to the back burner and the country once again can focus on the greatness of the sport. Nothing beats going to the ballpark on a sunny afternoon or turning on a game when there is nothing better to do on a hot summer night. Let's hope this season focuses on the game and new teams continue to emerge as play-off contenders.

For all of your baseball needs, I recommend Only Baseball Matters, Baseball Musings, the Baseball Crank, Sabernomics, and the Business of Baseball Blog. Each of these sites also has links to team-specific sites and other great places for baseball news.

Play Ball!


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