January 2. It's just about six weeks until "pitchers and catchers report" and we begin revving up for another season of the greatest game played with a ball that was ever invented.
And the fans of most major league teams begin revving up for another year of frustration and disappointment.
That was certainly my fate last year. Frustration. I can remember no season since becoming a Houston Astros fan some thirty years before that was more filled with angst, anger, and hopelessness. Last year's team was hopeless almost from the beginning of the season.
The main problem was that they had a manager who was clueless and incompetent. He may be a fine human being and he may have had success in other roles in baseball, but as a manager, he didn't know where to begin. He made excuses for his errors. He blamed his players. He blew up at reporters who asked him questions he didn't want to answer. Worst of all, he made boneheaded strategic moves in games that even a competent Little League manager wouldn't have made. He put the team in a hole and he destroyed their team spirit. Soon they were playing like they had lead in their shoes. And in their arms and between their ears. They were, in short, an embarrassment to themselves and to their fans.
But now it is a new year. The team has a new manager and will have many new and untried players. This season could be another total disaster. On the other hand, it could be the start of something really good and really exciting.
Pollyanna has nothing on the diehard baseball fan. Hope, indeed, springs eternal - especially before the season begins.