Baseball…things to love in 2006

first_imgI am sincerely convinced that I’m the most experienced baseball fan on the planet. I haven’t watched nearly so many games as your 86-year-old grandpa, and I haven’t been around the game even a fraction of the time that Peter Gammons has, but nonetheless, I’ll put my name above theirs on the list.The fact is, I’m a Florida Marlins fan.I’ve been blessed enough to watch my team win more World Series championships than seven major league baseball franchises — two titles in just their first 11 years of existence.I’ve also had the misfortune to witness three 98-plus loss seasons, including having season tickets to the 54-108 1998 campaign that became more painful every time the team was referred to as the “World Champion” Florida Marlins.I’ve lived through the excitement that surrounds a brand-new expansion franchise and am currently experiencing what it feels like to have your team leave town.I watched my team go on off-season spending sprees twice, with fire sales that would have made Wal-Mart envious.I’ve seen it all.Having said that, there is still a shopping list of things that I am very excited to see this season, not just surrounding the Fish, but all-around baseball. While my team is doomed to a 100-plus loss season (again), there is still plenty to get excited about in baseball.Some things to look forward to about the 2006 MLB season:… There’s the voice of Los Angeles Dodgers play-by-play man Vin Scully, who tells the story of a ballgame like no other, making the Braves-Dodgers game I am listening to as I type — a game that I otherwise couldn’t care less about — spellbinding.… There’s the asterisk that hopefully will become permanently attached to Barry Bonds’ name, at least in the record books. Seriously, doesn’t “Barry Bonds*” just look heavenly?… There’s the hope that the Yankees will crash and burn again.… Or if you are a Yanks fan (aka hollow inside), there’s the hope that the Sox crash and burn again this year, with Johnny Damon the leading culprit.… There’s watching ultra-talented Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, the all-star pitchers for the Chicago-area Hospital’s rec-league team.… You can look forward to viewing the pure joy that Dontrelle Willis, Vladimir Guerrero and Carl Crawford all play the game with.… Can’t wait for the first stadium-rocking home run of the season by the Brewers’ Prince Fielder, and the ensuing stadium-foundation-rocking trot around the bases.… AL cities can look forward to the rock-your-world (back-and-forth) Leo Mazzone Tour, fresh out of Atlanta and coming to a ballpark near you!… There’s the excitement in watching the Mets’ Julio Franco become the first major-leaguer to ever steal a base while using a walker. Of course, the steal comes against the Padres and Mike Piazza.… There’s the daily smiles brought on by Bonds’ website, BarryBonds.com, one of the most ridiculous sites to ever grace the Internet.… Don’t forget the “name that batting stance game,” almost always featuring the goofy statures of low-sitting Jeff Bagwell, high-rising Craig Counsell and the just-confusing-looking Tony Batista.… There’s the annual intrigue as to what body part slugger Ken Griffey Jr. will hurt this season, before having to be put on the shelf for the remainder of the year.… Always interesting will be watching Phillies fans boo more than they cheer, despite winning the wild-card spot.… Not having to see Sammy Sosa on the field at all.But most wonderful will be sitting down with a sausage or hotdog in a bun, with a cold drink and nothing to do, and watching the most beautifully crafted game ever invented. It’s great to have baseball back, even if the Marlins have decided they don’t want any part of it.last_img

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