As I write this post, the Atlanta Braves have just scored the first run of the 2011 MLB season, doing so at the expense of…you guessed it, the Washington Nationals (who else? The Royals don’t play for almost another three hours and the Pirates don’t open until tomorrow).
There are actually a bunch of other sports events going on right now. In the NBA, the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs are trying to hold off the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers for the top spots in their conferences’ playoff races while the Indiana Pacers, Charlotte Bobcats, Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets do the same for the last spots in the postseason.
In the NHL, the Vancouver Canucks are dominating the West but the Philadelphia Flyers are trying to hold off the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals for the top spot in the East and the Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres and New York Rangers are hanging on to the final playoff spots in their conferences for dear life.
In men’s college basketball, Santa Clara won the College Insider Tournament on Wednesday (you were all watching, right?), Wichita State plays Alabama for the NIT title tonight, Creighton plays Oregon for the CBI title tomorrow and the Final Four of the NCAA tournament begins on Saturday and concludes on Monday, one day before the women’s Final Four wraps up.
But even with all that stuff going on, let’s face it, Opening Day in Baseball is bigger than any of those events, except maybe the men’s Final Four. I’ve never really been able to settle on a favorite MLB team the way I have with the NHL and NFL but even so, I still love watching baseball. It has less penalties than other sports and it’s thrilling to watch at its best.
You also have to have a lot of respect for players who compete in a sport where playing games on three consecutive days is the norm, as opposed to football, where there’s only one game a week for each team, or hockey and basketball, where the players never have to play for more than two consecutive nights.
It’s got some of the best advanced statistics in all of sports, which makes for some great debates about strategy whether you’re a fan, a sportswriter, an executive or a team’s manager. It does take a lot of time but I don’t think that makes it all that boring. After all, any sport can have a really ugly game when you think about it. But any sport can also have a game that reminds you exactly why you care about them in the first place.
Here’s hoping for a season full of those games.