Monday, April 6, 2009


It’s a good time to be a sports fan. Tar Heel fans anxiously anticipate tonight’s NCAA National Championship game and a possible second championship in five years. Golf enthusiasts look forward to the pageantry of The Masters, which tees off Thursday, to see if anyone will challenge Tiger Woods for the fabled Green Jacket. But for me, today is the best day… it’s Opening Day!

Yes, I know for most of you, football has overtaken baseball as the most popular sport in this country, but I’m old school. To quote actor James Earl Jones from Field of Dreams, “The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again.”

So despite the cloud of performance enhancing drugs that continues to linger over the sport (and don’t fool yourself into thinking the problem is not just as rampant in the NFL and other sports), I will spend today reveling in watching game after game.

For me, the best opening day is in the other Queen City of Cincinnati. One of baseball’s oldest franchises, the Reds were the first professional team and for many years no other opening day game started before theirs. It’s no wonder today is treated like a holiday in Cincinnati. There’s a parade that runs through downtown and everyone wears red. It’s no wonder folks get out of work and kids skip school as people both young and old come down with a case of baseball fever. Too bad Mother Nature won’t cooperate with a rain and snow mix and temperatures in the 40s. While the franchise has endured eight straight losing seasons, fans will sell out Great American Ball Park as hope springs eternal.

As the Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, Mets and Phillies garner all the headlines, and rightly so, three of the Reds top 10 prospects will be playing right here in North Carolina. First baseman Yonder Alonso, infielder/outfielder Todd Frazier and third baseman Juan Francisco will start the year wearing a Carolina Mudcats uniform. So, if the economy is making traveling to see a Major League game impossible, consider a trip to Zebulon, North Carolina and watch the Mudcats. Who knows, perhaps it'll be as if you dipped yourself in magic waters, and the memories will be so thick you'll have to brush them away from your faces.

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