When Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger connected with wide receiver Santonio Holmes in the final seconds of Super Bowl XLIII, I rejoiced.
Not because the touchdown all but secured a victory for the Steelers, but because it signaled a changing of the guard.
So long, football. Hello, baseball.
And while it may just be in my head, I swear the weather is already better, the birds are chirping, dandelions are blooming, and the glass is half full.
Football season is one of the toughest times of the year for me. All of the time ESPN dedicates to baseball highlights gets replaced by football previews, injury reports, or Terrell Owens. Baseball Tonight gets the Conan O’Brien treatment, only appearing every once in a while, and usually late at night, instead of its primetime 7 p.m. slot. Sports radio no longer cares about the Red Sox; it’s all Brady, all the time.
It may seem stupid and trivial, but for someone who lives and thrives with baseball, it hurts. It’s my own form of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
This offseason, some things have helped. The MLB Network is one of them. I’d rather watch another painfully boring and predictable 2005 World Series game between the Chicago White Sox and the Houston Astros than any football game. Even though the host on “Prime 9” makes me want to jab pencils into my ears, at least it’s something.
Perhaps the saddest thing I’ve done to get my baseball fix (and I am in no way, proud of, or promoting, this) is mock fantasy baseball drafts. They’re pointless, usually repetitive, and completely fruitless, but it promotes baseball arguments between the participants. Few people can talk as in-depth about baseball as fantasy nerds. I mean, who besides fantasy players can name anyone in the Pittsburgh Pirates minors besides Jose Tabata? Not many.
Convincing my girlfriend that this level of dedication to baseball is in any way healthy is an ongoing process.
But since baseball season is here, I don’t have to hide anymore. There are others like me and I know it. They’ve been sitting patiently, watching the ESPN ticker for the recent signings, logging onto MLB.com when no one’s looking, and oiling their gloves. They’ll be coming out of the woodwork any day now, showing their true colors.
The hats and jerseys will find their way out of the deep recesses of closets. Browns fans will come back to the Indians. The few Dolphins fans will once again be the few Marlins fans.
Like Darth Vader, they’ll come back from the Dark Side.
The players will return in less than two weeks. The World Baseball Classic will begin in a little more than three. On April 5, the Braves will take on the World Champion Phillies in the first game of the 2009 season.
Then, on April 6, it’s Opening Day.
Green grass. Blue skies. The crack of the bat.
I can't wait.