There is almost nothing like the start of the regular season for baseball fans.
We, as fans, look forward to what could be—that our favorite players’ flaws will be corrected or improved this year (cough, cough, Mark Reynolds), that that once promising player will turn it around after looking terrible (Chris Young, Stephen Drew), that Kerry Wood will pitch a full (or even most of a) season, that the teams we hate are bad, that the touted phenom is exactly that, that this year will be the year that things are different.
For many fans, this enthusiasm is fool’s gold. It seems that every year there are teams like the Pirates or the Royals that get off to a promising start, but then by the time May, June, and July roll around, they are back doing what these teams do best, which is being overmatched by more talented or better-run opponents.
I guess for these fans, I can relate it to living in Phoenix (or rather the greater metropolitan area of Phoenix). I love it here, and barring something happening that would force my hand, I would never leave. Sure, it has its flaws—the summers can be awful, the air pollution stinks, traffic can be unbearable, and there are no beaches in sight.
But then there are times like this time of year, the early spring, when I can’t think of anything better. I can drive with my window down in the morning or evening and breathe fresh cool air. I can, while driving through Mesa on my way to work with the windows down, enjoy the heavenly smell of citrus blossoms. It is like a drug for me. I get that for two to three weeks—just sheer perfection.
Unfortunately, like all drugs, the high wears off and reality sets in—the summer, when the only thing worse than going outside is getting in the car that has been parked outside all day and then driving for an hour (or more) during rush hour.
I totally get it—I’m a fan. I don’t want to live anywhere else, just like the true fans of bad teams can’t root for any other team. They get just enough of the optimism to last them the entire year.
This year, as a fan of the Diamondbacks, it is like every other year. I am excited. I want to see what Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy can do. I want to see Reynolds duplicate (with a few less K’s) last year’s performance. I want to see Chris Young bounce back. I want the bullpen to perform so that I am on the edge of my seat with excitement and not terror. I want Brandon Webb to be Brandon Webb and not Shoulder’s Dead.
I see the potential and the improvements made in the team during the offseason. It is like the citrus blossoms. Life is good. The division could be ours this year. I just hope that reality doesn’t hit me too hard if it does hit me later. That would be like the aforementioned car parked outside and long drive home through rush hour, only to have the A/C go out. Is that too much to ask?
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