Our long national nightmare is over. Baseball season has begun.
The boys of summer begin their game these days in places where it is still winter. Many of the ball parks hosting games over the next few days will be having snow flurries and weather more typical of football season. Nevertheless, the calendar says it is time and so we begin.
My beloved Astros will be starting their season in Philadelphia tomorrow, a daunting prospect for them since they had the worst record in spring training and Philadelphia is one of the strongest teams in the league, the one that many prognosticators pick to go to the World Series this year. And now the Astros are further hobbled by injuries to key players on whom they were depending for improved play this year. It seems the poor guys just cannot catch a break.
Still, one of the reasons that we love this game is that, on any given day, any team can beat any other team, even if that other team looks far superior on paper. They don't play the game on paper; they play it on the field, and on the field strange things can happen. The ball can bounce in crazy ways or the wind can lift it. An outfielder can misread the ball and turn the wrong way and, the first thing you know, you've got an inside-the-park home run!
It's the first day of the season. Only a few games were played today. The rest of the teams will play tomorrow, and so, at this point, anything is possible. Even the Astros could go to the World Series! I mean so far they have a clean slate. Their lousy spring training is behind them and they haven't lost a single game in the 2011 season.