Spring has sprung, and with it come spring training and the return of baseball.
Pitchers stretch and play catch on the fresh, green, and manicured lawns. Hitters work the cages, exchange trade secrets, and work out the kinks spawned from an idle winter.
The temperature is rising, the sun is shining, and optimism permeates throughout. For it is hard to be pessimistic during spring training—unless you're from Philadelphia.
For us, it is just too easy.
Cliff Lee has gone to Seattle and taken with him any hope for the playoffs. Roy Halladay is on the verge of breaking down. Cole Hamels is too lazy, Raul Ibanez is too old, and Joe Blanton is too fat. Jayson Werth is doing fine, but of course he is signing with the Yankees next season. Or the Red Sox. Or maybe even the Royals. Any other team but the Phillies.
Such is another spring of discontent in Philadelphia—a season where the malcontents take to the airwaves and predict another failed season, and with it the downfall of civilization as we know it.
Although these people make up a small portion of the Philadelphia sports demographic, they remain widely publicized and have almost become mainstream. This just furthers the stereotype of Philadelphia being a terrible and brutal sports town.
But me? I like the Phillies' chances. I like Werth's facial hair almost as much as I like his game. I like Shane Victorino's hustle and Carlos Ruiz's ability to work with the pitching staff. I predict rebound years for Jimmy Rollins and Hamels. I see a 20-win season for Halladay, and Chase Utley is always going to be Chase Utley. While we're at it, Ryan Howard might even cut down on his strikeouts.
Is it foolish? Possibly. Is it idealistic? Absolutely. But if you can't be idealistic during spring training, when can you be?
These are just my views, but the wide majority of Philadelphia fans remain just excited for this season. These are the real fans, and if you want to find us, you can come to Citizens Bank Park—a place where the few "boos" are always overwhelmed by the thunderous "RAUULS!" You can walk the concourses, have a cheesesteak, and enjoy some of the best baseball this city has ever seen.
Get ready, because baseball season is back, and I, like most of Philadelphia, am excited. We may not always be happy, but we'll always be there, cheering on our beloved Phillies—and I will continue to remain just as optimistic.
But seriously, have you seen Raul Ibanez this spring?