Ah... baseball's back

(Originally posted by Yankees2 on Pinstripe Alley)

Rosters are set, players are suiting up (mentally and physically) for the long-haul, and Yankee Stadium is awakening from its dreary winter slumber. The winter blues are gone for another ten months. Grass is once again visible in the Northern United States. Leaves are appearing on trees... and spring is breathing new life into 2011.

It's certainly felt like an eternity since Neftali Feliz delivered what would be the final blow to the 2010 New York Yankee campaign. Ironically enough, Alex Rodriguez froze on a two-strike curveball and Texas Ranger affiliates rejoiced upon advancing to the franchise's first World Series.

I'll be honest with you, the ensuing 160 days certainly didn't help warm the long, melancholy winter I experienced here in Pennsylvania. And they CERTAINLY didn't help lower my blood pressure. Let's just briefly highlight some of the major news stories between the end of 2010 until now without getting too specific.

1) Cliff Lee says "No thanks"... joins Philadelphia.

2) Derek Jeter's ridiculous contract dilemma.

3) Andy Pettitte hints toward a return.... and then retires on a whim.

4) Yankees sign Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, Mark Prior and Kevin Millwood to shore up rotation/add depth.

5) Bombers sign Rafael Soriano to 3 year/$35 million contract.

6) Yanks re-sign Mariano Rivera.

7) Jesus Montero continues to raise eyebrows and questions.

8) Casual fans now know the names Betances and Banuelos.

9) Other acquisitions include Andruw Jones, Ronnie Belliard, Eric Chavez and Pedro Feliciano.

10) CC Sabathia loses weight, gives it to Joba Chamberlain.

Honestly, none of those stories matter to me at this moment. As I sit here on Opening Day Eve, I continue to daydream about the 2011 Major League Baseball season. I can hardly fall asleep. I'm itching at the bit to watch the most glorious and well-known franchise in American sports take the field this Thursday. It's been entirely too long since we last witnessed relevant baseball. Spring Training has silently drawn to a close and the Yankees are currently in the Bronx preparing for what is sure to be a fun roller-coaster ride of a season.

What makes the start of the baseball season truly beautiful to me is that everyone is equal. Yes, even the Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox are as good as the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Indians at this very moment in time. Every fan of every team has hope to believe that this is their year. Obviously some of those fans might be a bit loony, but you get the picture. Surprises will hit us like a pile of bricks over the first month (they always do) and we're likely to see some extraordinary efforts by underdog teams or players we've barely heard of.

The American Pastime is a precise thing. It's about going out to the ballpark on a hot summer afternoon and enjoying time with family or friends. It's about a father that shares a first game with his son and explains which players are popular and what bases are which. For me, it's about sitting back in a lounge chair with a nice Arnold Palmer iced-tea/lemonade on my patio with the radio broadcast playing loud and proud on a Saturday afternoon in July. Baseball is about supporting your city and showing loyalty to your hometown team, whether the odds of victory are great or small. It's about breaking down every statistic to a tee and figuring out what's wrong with a pitcher's velocity or a fielder's range. Baseball is where magic happens and we don't know whether to thank the efforts of players or the ghosts of baseball past.

While I'm excited to watch as much baseball as humanly possible, there's also much more to it. Baseball has done more than cause me to invest my emotions into it, it's helped me build friendships. Sure, I don't know any of the readers on this blog personally. But it's a community like this that truly makes baseball enjoyable for me. I can connect with so many other people that have the same passion as I do. Pinstripe Alley is always good for a few laughs as well as in-depth conversation about the Yankees and baseball overall. We, in this community, are united under one common belief and one common joy we've discovered in life: baseball. I can't wait to spend my first start-to-finish season here.

Most of all, enjoy it. Enjoy all the pleasures that come along with 162 regular season games of baseball. Take in every moment of watching the players that are on the field right now. Don't give up on the Yankees or else you're cheating yourself of the tradition you've built up in watching baseball. Also, appreciate ALL of baseball's teams and not just the Yankees.

Some of my friends at college ask me why I love the game so much and why I'm so obsessive over the New York Yankees. I just tell them that they'll have an easier time understanding if they hop on the wagon this Thursday. It gives me great pleasure to type this next unoriginal phrase. Ladies and gentlemen, let's play ball.

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