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Robison: Enjoy the craziness of early-season baseball (Apr. 24)

Matthew Robison | Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The baseball world is in chaos. The Red Sox have hit “bottom,” according to new manager Bobby Valentine. After signing a $240 million contract in the offseason, Albert Pujols has yet to hit a homerun through 16 games. The Washington Nationals are tied for the best record in the National League.

But that’s the glory of early-season baseball. For those of us who are Orioles fans, April is virtually the only time to be hopeful about baseball. After that, nearly every ounce of hope erodes away as Baltimore makes its slow, methodical sink to the basement of the AL East.

Eventually, things will even out. Pujols will get his home runs, the Red Sox should make a run at the AL Wild Card – at the least – and Stephen Strasburg’s funky delivery will land him on the disabled list and toss the Nationals into a tailspin.

As much as I would love to see the Red Sox wallow in misery for the rest of the year, for the Orioles to make a run in the wild card race, fantasy owners continue to tear their hair out due to Pujols’ lack of production and perhaps see the Nationals (another local team) win the NL pennant, I just can’t see any of those scenarios holding true into October.

I consider myself a sports fan, but to be honest the summer heat usually sucks away my baseball enthusiasm in the middle of June. So I tend to pay the most attention to what happens in the early months and then again when the playoffs roll around. I’m sorry, I just can’t do it for 162 games. To the diehards out there, I respect you.

But I have to admit that I love the craziness of early-season and postseason baseball. I love when a guy hits two home runs on opening day and we can say things like, “He’s on pace to his 324 dingers this year!”

I also love that I can say that I have as many home runs as Pujols this season. I love when fans completely overreact to their teams’ early successes or failures. I love seeing people calling for Bobby Valentine’s head three weeks in. I love people trading Pujols for a closer in their fantasy leagues. It’s all just part of how entertaining professional sports can actually be, even beyond the games themselves.

In a couple months, it will be time for me to check out until October. It will be time for me to feel sorry for the Orioles fans who sit in a nearly-empty Camden Yards as they inexplicably lose to the Royals or instead be surrounded by 25,000 Yankees fans as Oriole Park turns into Yankee Stadium 2.0. It will be time for Pujols to turn things around and start sending balls into orbit again.

But after the midseason lull, everything will break loose again. Instead of the late-season collapse they had last year, the Red Sox will realize they are one of the most talented teams in baseball and will come screaming up the standings. The Nationals will realize how young they are and disintegrate. I hope I’m wrong. It’s still early enough in the season to have hope. And when it’s time for the postseason again, I will become interested again. I will become the biggest fan of whoever has a chance of knocking the Yankees out of the playoffs. I will be the one hoping every game goes into 16 innings so we can see an outfielder fill in for a depleted bullpen.

Until then, Major League Baseball, continue give me craziness. Otherwise, I’ll see you in October.

Contact Matthew Robison at mrobison@nd.edu

 

The views expressed in this Sports Authority column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.