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Opening Day
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The New York Yankees open their baseball season today. Opening Day isn't what it used to be, though. This year it's been sliced up, with the Dodgers and Diamondbacks playing in Australia in March, another game last Sunday night, followed by the traditional Monday openers. There have been three days of baseball before Yankee starter CC Sabathia throws his first pitch.

Every year encomiums are written about Opening Day, that wonderful new beginning for every team, that first day of spring so full of hope. For me, it has always been exciting but a little melancholy. In the end, twenty-nine of the thirty teams are doomed to fall short of their fans' most fervent dreams. Opening Day is the day when imagination gives way to reality.

During the winter we fans can gradually forget the hurt of falling short and as spring training starts the players all look better than they did than last season. Players we grumbled were over the hill last September we imagine returning miraculously to their earlier form, young players we dismissed as busts have magically regained their potential. If this player stays healthy, if that pitcher figures out how to control his slider, if this hitter learns to hit left-handers...if...if...if....

During spring training "if only" is the happiest phrase in the language. Real baseball fans have a genius for creating championship masterpieces from the sorriest bunch of losers using nothing more than "if only" and their imaginations.

As a reader and writer I have always favored imagination over reality, but I still love baseball season. And once in a while, more often than in real life, the reality matches the hopes or at least comes close.

Oh, I almost forgot. Go Yanks!

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