The horrible wind and rain of recent storms have passed and, once again, the sun has blanketed Northern California.
Not only does this symbolize that the end of the school year is near, it also tells me it's time for players to report to Spring Training.
This is my first year as a San Francisco Giants season ticket holder, and I will be looking and hoping for two things: Barry Zito's return to form, and Aaron Rowand's impact on his new team.
Barry Zito has been a favorite of mine since his days with the Oakland A's. His nasty curveball and high leg kick had me at first pitch. I'm a sucker for a pitcher with a beautiful high-leg kick.
In the 2007 season with the Giants, Zito went 11-13 with a 4.53 ERA. He felt the pressure of his new $126 million contract, and it showed on the field.
Well, 2008 is a new season. At this year's Giants FanFest, Zito looked slimmer and more at ease. As I watched the jovial #75 during a question-and-answer session, a sense of hope seemed to grow with every word that floated out his mouth.
Barry Zito is back.
With the pressure off, it's time for him to do some damage in the tough NL West.
However, pitching is only one aspect of the game. Without many runs scored, it's tough to support a pitcher, except for the obligatory pat on the butt.
Aaron Rowand needs to be the Giants' sparkplug. He was the "big acquisition" of the offseason, and it's time to show he deserves his $60 million contract.
As the centerfielder of the Philadelphia Phillies, he quickly became a player I loved to watch. His passion, dedication, and drive were qualities I wished many players shared.
Offensively, he came through for the Phillies during crucial moments. I look to him to do the same for the Giants. Although he will now be patrolling the outfield of AT&T Park instead of Citizens Bank Park, I still see his defense as being above average.
Let's hope he doesn't get injured by running into anymore fences.
Rowand brings to the Giants an air of unity, a desire for an undivided team. I believe he can create that.
The team needs a leader to push the improvement. We have to work with what we have, and it's not pretty. My theory is that the new vibe in the clubhouse will have only positive effects.
I'm looking forward to a season with a unified team on the field. Although I enjoyed all the Barry Bonds moments, the stage is cleared of any divas. No longer will a spotlight follow the ballclub's most coveted star. The stage belongs to the team.
The 2008 season brings me hope for a better year. We have great pitching, a new lineup, and no Pedro Feliz.
See you in section 129!