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Opening Day thoughts

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Why is our president avoiding baseball's Opening Day?

By Mike Forster

Early next week, we’ll see the opening of Major League Baseball’s regular season.

Some columnists get all weepy about this event.  They write about the return of baseball with prose as emotion-laden as what you’d expect to see on a piece about a long-lost love or a childhood dog.  

I’m happy to see baseball return, but I’m not emotionally engaged. I merely offer the following observations:

-Our president will not be in attendance at any opener, despite his avowed love of the Chicago White Sox.

His travel schedule has him heading to Turkey.

He has chosen Turkey over throwing out the opening pitch for his favorite team?

Very few presidents have blown off the chance to throw out the opening pitch.

Woodrow Wilson missed it a couple of times.  Of course, he was bedridden, having suffered a stroke.

Richard Nixon was digging his bunker and unavailable for pitching duties.

But other presidents, such as wheelchair-bound Franklin Delano Roosevelt and portly William Howard Taft, performed the presidential duties of tossing the first pitch.

Could a girly throwing style be the reason for this trip to Turkey?

I’ll leave it to the news guys to solve that one.

*****

I’ll say one thing for the president:  He stuck by his team when it might have been politically expedient to play the middle ground.

During the election, he could have feigned a sudden affinity for a team from Ohio or Pennsylvania or Florida:  states that hung in the electoral balance.

Instead, he never wavered from his support for the White Sox.

I’m a Cubs fan and, as such, have little use for the Sox.   But I do have respect for a loyal fan.

*****

One thing we always hear at the start of the season:  Every team starts 0-0 and has a chance to win it all.

That’s a lie.  The Washington Nationals, Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals have no chance to win it all.  We all know this.  Even they know this.

In fact, the only prospect for success any of these three has is to not finish with the worst record in the majors.

*****

Here are my predictions on who will win what:

NL East: Mets

NL Central: Cubs

NL West: Dodgers

NL Wild Card: Braves

AL East: Yankees

AL Central: Tigers

AL West: Angels

AL Wild Card: Red Sox

NL Champ: Cubs

AL Champ:  Angels

World Champ:  Angels

*****

Speaking of the Cubs, it looks like the wife and I will be hitting a game at Wrigley this summer.  

We toyed with the idea of going to the home opener, but  didn’t have a couple extra buckets o’ cash lying around to fund the scalpers.  The Cubbies’ home opener is always a pricey proposition.

I tried my editor, but he wouldn’t spring for the tix, as he didn’t see the trip as “applicable to our coverage area.”  

I guess some of us just don’t want to think outside of the box.

*****

The Cincinnati Reds historically had the honor of hosting the first game of the season.  That honor was given to the Reds since the team was the oldest in the league.

That stopped in 1989.

Nonetheless, the city of Cincinnati still makes a big deal over the opening of baseball.

The town basically shuts down for a parade, the afternoon game and festivities galore.

With St. Louis, Cincy is Baseball Town, USA.

*****

The team with the most pressure riding on it to get off to a hot start:  the Detroit Tigers.

Playing in a region of the country that is being hit harder than nearly any other, the Tigers have seen season-ticket sales fall from 27,000 last year to 15,000 this year (according to the Detroit Free Press).

Last year, you may recall, the Tigers got off to a dismal start to a season that had high expectations.

This year, the Tigers need to win back fans who have voted against the team with both their feet and their wallets.

*****

Philadelphia opens at home against Atlanta Sunday night.  At that game, the Phillie players will be presented with their World Series rings.

“The World Champion Philadelphia Phillies.”

Five months after they earned the title, it still doesn’t sound right to me.