Baseball is Back!
I wrote a blog a while back trying to come up with a reason for a new holiday. Well if ever there was a good reason this is it. Opening day of the major league baseball season is a day like no other to hardcore baseball enthusiasts like myself.
It is America's favorite past time you know. Yeah, I know the NFL is the biggest sport in America... but I simply don't care if that's true or not. Baseball brings back memories of summers playing with my brothers and friends in the empty lot down the street. My parents often volunteered at our small town, small time little league park. Dad helped coach and mom ran the concession stand. I remember with fondness nights after games being better than Thanksgiving feasts because the left over hamburgers, hot dogs and nacho's weren't to go to waste. The staff of workers all got to take some home and let me tell ya... that's good eatin when you're a kid. Heck I'd venture to say that's good eatin now in my 40's. I think I just decided what I want for dinner.
I grew up in a small Kansas town about 2 hours from Kansas City. I'm sure you're aware that in the midwest we measure distance by the time it takes to get there, not by miles. This proximity and the glory days that were in those days made me grow up a die-never fan of the Royals. Days were good then. 7 division titles, 2 World Series appearances and 1 championship in 1985. It was a good time to grow up in a place few people ever even think about. Those are days and times I'm thankful for as much as anything.
Well it's a good thing we Royals fans enjoyed that success while we had it because since 1985 it's been sorely lacking. The drought is a long one. The embarrassment has at times been brutal. Since I moved to Illinois some 20 years ago several friends here have "tried" to convince me to become a Cardinals fan. Well that... and I mean absolutely no disrespect Cards fans... is just silly, not to mention impossible. If the Cardinals won the World Series every year and the Royals never won another game between now and the end of time I'd still be a Royals fan. That's what I am. It's not a choice, it's a deeply seeded passion. It's the blood that runs through my veins. I love blue. I bleed it. Red is for football season.
We Royals fans finally have something this season you Cards fans always have... hope. An off season of spending, shuffling and re-tooling has KC fans talking playoffs... and at least one ESPN analyst, Aaron Boone, agrees. So I'm again going to put my blue-tinted "homer glasses" on and boldly go where few are going and pick my beloved Royals to win a wild card spot in the American League. It's going to be tough. There are plenty of other good teams to beat out. But if we know one thing... it's the undeniable truth that if opening day is about anything... it's about hope. Here's to hope.
For the record here are my full picks for this years MLB season...
America League East champs- Toronto Blue Jays. No one did more to improve themselves in the off season than Toronto. No one. Boston and Tampa will provide plenty of competition. The Yankees won't.
American League Central champs- Detroit Tigers. The Royals are going to be much improved but not enough to catch Verlander and company.
American League West champs- Anaheim Angels. Albert Pujols was mostly a bust for them last year. Now they have Josh Hamilton to help take the pressure off. Oh yeah there's Mike Trout who is probably the best player in baseball too. This team should be scary good.
American League wild cards... Oakland A's and Kansas City Royals. Go ahead and laugh, I can handle it. Either the Red Sox or Rays could replace Oakland here. No neither could replace KC. :)
National League East champs- Washington Nationals. They could be the best team in baseball this year. We'll see
National League Central champs- Cincinnati Reds. No offense Cards faithful, I just think the new version of the big red machine has more going for it... even with Wainright back in St. Louis.
National League West champs- LA Dodgers. They certainly spent like they expect to win this off season. I think they will too.
National League wild cards- Arizona Diamondbacks and San Fransisco Giants. Yes this means I have 3 teams from the N.L. west in the playoffs. It should be a really good divison. St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Atlanta all get a fair chance from me as well should someone else falter a bit.
World Series- Anaheim Angels over the Washington Nationals in 7 games.
Now let's PLAY BALL!