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Commentary: Opening Day offers hope, fresh start for fans

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Opening Day in Major League Baseball is, for some, a national holiday. It’s synonymous with “hope.” It’s a time when every team is undefeated and every fan owns bragging rights — yes, even Ohio sports fans. But it goes beyond that. Opening Day brings new life to a team.

It’s like a New Year’s resolution, and, for most professional sports teams in Ohio, it ends like most New Year’s resolutions: null and void within three months. Still, it’s always nice to start the season thinking your team has a shot.

That’s why we try to appease the baseball gods by wearing team jerseys and hats and even our lucky socks that haven’t been washed since the Kenny Lofton days, as if the fate of our team’s championship hopes rest solely on our wardrobe offerings. Some call it crazy, ridiculous and even fanatical. And, to that we say, “What’s your point?”

As Opening Day arrived, Major League Baseball in Ohio finds two ball clubs heading in opposite directions. Baseball’s oldest franchise, the Cincinnati Reds, truly has given its fans something to cheer about.

On Opening Day, the Reds defeated the Milwaukee Brewers, 7-6.

This year, the Reds hold great expectations, and look to rebound from a first-round playoff sweep at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies last October.

Last year’s National League Central champs boast a star-studded roster that includes the likes of Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and the “Cuban Missile,” Aroldis Chapman and his 105 mph fastball.

And then there’s the Cleveland Indians. After a rough finish last season, expert analysts say the Indians are heading toward a rebuilding phase. Rumor has it pitcher Fausto Carmona could be on the move before the All-Star break, in exchange for prospects to breathe new life into the ball club.

But, the Indians are going to need more than a few trades and superstitious batting routines to become a legitimate contender. And, if winning is what the Cleveland Indians are looking to do, they might consider picking up free agent Charlie Sheen, aka Wild Thing (I hear he’s “between jobs,” and “winning” is his new mantra).

Statistically speaking, Opening Day is not necessarily an indicator of what is to come for a team. Last year the Reds dropped their home opener to the St. Louis Cardinals, giving up 11 runs. As the season progressed, the Reds picked up steam and ended the regular season five games ahead of the second-place Cardinals.

New York Times columnist George Vecsey once said, “There is no sports event like Opening Day of baseball, the sense of beating back the forces of darkness and the National Football League.”

And, with potential lockouts from both the NFL and the NBA looming, the great American pastime may be all we have left.

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