For weary baseball fans like me, the hard months are over as the pitchers and catchers head down south to raise our hopes for another summer. Every year, from the time my beloved Eagles eventually lose in the playoffs until mid-February, I get antsy. When I used to live in Washington Heights (the upper most part of Manhattan island for those non-New Yorkers), late night cab rides would usually take me up the Harlem River Drive where Yankee Stadium would countdown the days to pitchers and catchers reporting for duty. It felt good to see that number getting smaller and smaller.
That day of reckoning is here for the 2011 season.
So I'm dedicating this week to my love of the game. Baseball was the first sport that I followed, starting around the age of eight. Baseball cards played a huge role in that. I was a big card kid. I still have most of them, mountains of them hidden throughout the house. Unfortunately, my prowess on the field never matched my passion, as you could probably guess from my swing in the picture above. I stunk. If by some miracle I did hit that ball at that angle, at best I could hope for a slow roller back to the mound. However, I did manage to hit a mean double once. It was the highlight of my career.
Growing up, I certainly rooted for the home team. The Phillies weren't exactly great in the late '80s, but I didn't really care so much. Part of being a Philadelphia sports fan is accepting that our team never catches any breaks and is always going to be a hard luck team. Which is odd, because with my sports teams is where I probably maintain the most optimistic attitude in life.
One Phillie that I've always liked is Von Hayes, a hard luck player if ever there was one. Von is famous for the Phillies having traded five players for him. He never lived up to expectations, though I've never felt it was his fault. Von was a player that could have been a good piece for a championship team, but was never going to be that MVP. He had some decent years though and his cards are still separated into my 'Favorite Players' pile.
I still root for the Phils, though I've always been more of an American League fan and when I moved to NYC, the Yankees, my childhood American League team, won my full allegiance. As this year begins, it looks like pretty good odds for the Phils to be in the World Series...and you can never count out the Yanks. All in all, could be a fun year.