Optimism Always Reigns on Opening Day

<B>Opening Day.</B> No two words conjure more feelings of excitement in the baseball fan than these (OK, maybe World Champions), and no two words can encompass the vast array of emotions that accompany that excitement. There is a feeling of invincibility, of chance and opportunity, a clean slate upon which to build an entirely new bundle of memories.

Each year, the past gets tossed aside and the present embraced, as the anticipation of a new baseball season arrives.

As kids, we looked on these days of April thankful that the great game had finally returned to entertain us for the next six months. For those who grew up in that time, it meant appointment TV for those first televised games, eager to see the hyped rookies as players who had changed teams in the offseason.

It's a time for imagining that anything is possible, from a Detroit Tigers World Series Pennant to a career year for a player. Your favorite team has the same record as everyone's favorite team (except for those teams that play on those "other" Opening games…how sad).

For Braves fans, it could be a injury free, career year from JD Drew. Or maybe another MVP year from Chipper or, better yet, from Andruw Jones.

And, of course, all fans' (and players, managers, coaches, etc.) dreams end with a World Championship.

Surely the players themselves feel a great measure of rebirth with a new season beginning. Maybe the part of their game they worked on all offseason and in the spring will pay off. Maybe this is the year those doubles become home runs, or that changeup works for strikeouts.

Hope abounds in that word: Maybe.

For players like Adam LaRoche, Mike Hessman and Dewayne Wise, it's the first step of what they hope is a long career. It's a time to begin to fulfill dreams, to begin to act out the dreams that have led them to this Day.

For Mark DeRosa, this Opening Day means a chance to start every day for the first time; even it causes more nerves than ever before. In fact, DeRosa said his nerves caused a sleep deprived evening as Opening Day caused more than a little anxiety in the third baseman. "I think it's great," intones Jaret Wright, a pitcher who is feeling the joy of a new season, one in which he returns to what he loves to do, starting pitching. "Coming to the ballpark, hearing your name announced, I love it."

Whatever the dream, it's possible on Opening Day. It's the time for optimism even in the face of extreme doubt. Cincinnati Reds fans have all season to stare the truth in the face, why face it on Opening Day when the ledgers are cleared?

Sure, as soon as the first pitch is tossed out there the first of 162 games worth of blanks begin to fill in for every team (and in Tuesday's case with the Braves, the very first pitch), but it shouldn't dull the feeling of excitement that exists as the season begin, and even a 7-2 loss shouldn't spoil the magic of Opening Day.

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