Spring has swung once again

Finally. It is April. Small animals are coming out of hibernation, those spring showers are sure to bring May flowers and of course, Baseball season has started. America’s pastime has spread its proverbial wings and taken flight. Teams all over are full of excitement and for once, the biggest buzz isn’t about steroids. Why? The answer is simple. Baseball has started to go back to its roots. No more synthetically-enhanced, one-dimensional mashers take roster spots from legitimate athletes. No more McGwire-esque 20 inch biceps. Gone are the Bonds-ian 9 _ sized ball caps. These days it’s all about defense and speed, quality at-bats instead of looking to hit the lights out of the stadium. Purity sure is a good thing.

Baseball’s substance abuse policy is the most stringent in major sports, and efforts to cut out unnatural enhancement have been extremely effective. Some may argue that without these mammoth boppers that baseball is struggling or that interest in the game is sagging.

I beg to differ. If you can turn on ESPN then you can clearly see reasons that baseball is flying high. Albert Pujols has opened the season with a continued assault on the record books, the juggernaut Yankees are aiming at a storied 28th world championship and rookie sensations with endless talent are rising to superstardom.

Think about it. How many people on this planet can hit a mid-90s fastball with a three-inch diameter bat? Now for comparison, how many people can tackle a person? The hand-eye coordination required to play baseball is immense.

Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria takes batting practice with a pitching machine that shoots tennis balls at 100 mph. Just because that isn’t challenging enough, he marks the tennis balls. Red spots mean pull the pitch, black spot means go the other way with it, and no spot means go back up the middle.

That is why I love baseball.

You have to really work hard to play and stand out. That’s why every time a game is on it is worth watching the most elite athletes.

It’s April, and boy am I glad. Baseball, apple pie, and mom is about as American as you can get. Cliché? Maybe. It is only cliché because it’s a true statement. Every fan can be hopeful because at this point, every team has a chance.

Every kid can get out there and play little league with dreams of being just like Jeter, Pujols, Mauer and Chipper. In the words of the late Harry Caray, “Hello again, everyone. It’s a bee-you-tiful day for baseball.