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Baseball: Hope, Continuity and Change

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Though I am not a Red Sox fan by any means, I am a baseball fan and all baseball fans in their heart of hearts had to be happy for the Sox fans last October, who having waited unquietly and impatiently for a winner for 86 long years, finally got one in the most dramatic and convincing fashion.

Beyond that bit of magnanimity, on the selfish side of the ledger, fans of longshot teams across the nation can allow their minds to wander more freely and their dreams rise more stratospherically having seen a team not just unlucky, but certifiably cursed, win 8 games in a row when it counted most to not only be the first team in baseball postseason history to come back from a 3-0 deficit, against the YANKEES no less, but also sweep the formidable Cardinals in the Series. (One question: did the Sox win because the curse was lifted, or did winning shatter the curse?)

It’s a buoyant, poignantly clear early spring day here in Northeast Ohio — one you wish to cradle and protect in its fragile perfection — and after a fine season of consolidation and vertiginous improvement last year, the addition of Aaron Boone at third, Kevin Millwood to the rotation, and a revamped bullpen (especially lefty Arthur Rhodes), we fans (and many pundits) dare to believe our team is poised to give the Twins a run for the American League Central title as home opener festivities commence this afternoon after an up-and-down season-opening 3-3 road trip.

Go Tribe!

At the other end of the baseball spectrum, the vast open end of the sport’s funnel, my 5 year-old daughter had her first tee-ball practice on Saturday and I had a dopey smile plastered on my face to match the blazing sunshine the entire time. Seeing the seven boys, five girls (nine 5 year-olds and three 6 year-olds) who make up the Mustangs endearingly confused yet eager to throw themselves into the grand old game, with four cheerful, earnest coaches dedicated to laying a groundwork of fundamentals that could provide them anything from a fun season or two, to a lifetime in and around the game, made me feel agreeably rooted and connected.

But for all the continuity of the game, its skills and rituals, things change too: when my older son began tee-ball just 12 years ago, the league was boys only. Saturday, the only time gender even came up was when the head coach gently suggested the boys get used to wearing a supporter and cup at a young age. Advantage, girls!

Play ball!

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About Eric Olsen

  • Richard Porter

    Eric

    We have talked before about the “romaticism” of baseball and its effect on specifically men in the United States. I spent the entire weekend with both of my sons playing baseball while listening to the games on the radio. As a Dad, there is nothing more pleasing than teaching and sharing my love for the game with my boys. Baseball brings us back to when we were seven years old and the summertime seemed to never end.

    Let’s go Mets!

  • Dawn

    I am looking forward, with guarded optimism, that Lily will not only enjoy, but excel at this sport. We are a baseball family through and through, and in the words of Tina Fey, even God hates golf.

    I second the emotion – PLAY BALL!!!

  • http://www.thebmrant.com Matt

    Good start for those Mets, eh Richard? Just goes to show you how little you can get with that much money.

  • Richard Porter

    Look Matt, it is only six games into the season but I am a realist. The Mets will probably be a 3rd place team unless they get more pitching.

  • Eric Olsen

    at every level of the game, in many ways the beginning, being open-ended and untarnished, is the most fun

  • Richard Porter

    I agree whole-heartedly.

  • The Theory

    Mets? A third place team? Good luck.

    Hey, I’m calling it now. The Nationals will end up with a better record than the Mets.

  • Richard Porter

    I’ll make that bet.

  • Eric Olsen

    it’s the time of year when no hope is too outrageous, even the Rockies’ owner was predicting success when the pundits are picking them for the worst record in the majors

  • Richard Porter

    You too Eric? Come on, Cleveland has great offense and zero pitching!

  • Eric Olsen

    au contraire Richard – the Indians have what should be a very solid rotation with Sabathia, Westbrook, Millwood, Lee, Ellarton; and a solid bullpen as well as long as Wickman holds up at closer. That’s why everyone has picked them second behind the Twins

  • Richard Porter

    Well, everything is open to debate. I like Westbrook and Sabathia, Millwood is overrated and Lee (high ERA) and Ellarton are too young and inconsistent.
    Wickman? Sorry…

  • http://counter-point.blogspot.com Scott

    I doubt the Nationals will finish higher than the Mets but we shall see…

    I’m glad baseball is back

  • The Theory

    Millwood can be dominant… but he is also past his prime. I think Cleveland will be a good organization for him, however, especially since he won’t be the #1 starter.

  • ClubhouseCancer

    Best of luck with Millwood. He’s a thick-headed jerk who is maddeningly inconsistent. Of course, all players get a bit better as soon as they leave Philadelphia.

    Sigh.

    I don’t think the Indians have enough to catch Minnesota anyway.

  • The Theory

    CC- it does seem like some players get better after leaving Philly, however, I think a lot of that has to do with the inneficient coaching job of that staff… which has been majorly overhauled. I think we’ll see players playing at their peak more often in Philly now.

  • Eric Olsen

    you have our Charlie M in there now – he sounds like a bumpkin but I love that guy!

    Unless everything goes right — and that is improbable — I agree the Indians are a probable second this year, but the trajectory is definitely up!

  • The Theory

    working in your favor, Eric, is that your division is fairly weak… So while Cleveland would be a surprise to take first, it’s also not out of the realm of possibility.

  • Eric Olsen

    totally agree TT, hence the heighened anticipation, although they sur ehaven’t started hitting yet, losing 2-1 in the home opener. They are hitting .216 thus far

  • Eric Olsen

    off to tee ball practice! kind of chilly, though

  • ClubhouseCancer

    Eric, you’ve got it going. One kid on the bass, one kid on the bases.

    Seriously, the blessings: count ‘em.

  • Eric Olsen

    very nice observation and sentiments CC, thanks, you are very sweet. I try hard to remember to be thankful, but I’m sure it’s still not enough.