Generally, I like to stick a toe in and test the water, not cannonball off the side, when I take my first dip of the summer.
But that’s not going to be an option at the start of the 2015 Major League Baseball Season.
There will be no settling in gently, no warm-up laps and no do-overs as the 2015 season kicks off with the newly revitalized rivalry between the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs.
Some folks like to say that baseball doesn’t really become meaningful until Flag Day. Others say the games start to count after the All-Star Game.
But this year, the stakes will be high right off the bat.
The Redbirds are the reigning king of the hill in the National League Central. But the Cubs, thanks to the addition of high profile free agent starting pitcher Jon Lester and several of the teams long- anticipated prospects, seem to think they’re going to make a quantum leap from the cellar to the World Series in one year.
Cubs fans are looking for revenge from the last five years of helplessly watching the Cardinals play in the National League Championship Series, adding another World Series championship in 2011. Meanwhile, Redbirds rooters would like to see Chicago fans, who abandoned their team in droves last year before jumping back on the band wagon at the drop of a hat, silenced.
Fans of the Wee Bears have been lighting up the internet since Lester inked his contract. They say that one pitcher and a crop of green youngsters is all they need to become an instant contender for the World Series.
Cubs fans are so geeked up about their chances that they’ve skewed the betting lines in Las Vegas. The Cubs, obviously shy of the talent level and experience of some of the biggest heavyweights in baseball, have the second-highest odds of winning the Fall Classic to the loaded Washington Nationals. Why? Because so many Cubs fans are deliriously plunking down money on their team in the face of logic.
It’s odd to go from no meaningful baseball since last October -- or last June, in the Cubs’ case -- to the intensity of a grudge match in one day.
If I was in charge of the schedule, I would have scheduled a less contentious match-up for opening day. Those games are going to sell out anyway -- especially with Wrigley Fields bleacher sections still in the middle of renovations. Owners would attract more patrons and fans would get a chance to build up to the frenzy.
I’m still in the mood for lazy spring training games. Not for listening to trash talking Cubs fans spout off.
But teams have to play the games put in front of them. So I’m not going to complain. I’m just happy that soon I’ll be back to having the old, familiar friend that is an evening St. Louis Cardinals game back on my schedule for the next six or seven months.
So, regardless of the opponent, play ball!