The National Pastime Returns

Tuesday, 03 Apr 2012 12:22 PM

By Jon Friedman

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Are there two sweeter words in the English language than the cry of “Play Ball”?

Nope.

This week, Major League Baseball commences a new season. No Tebow-mania. No Lin-sanity. Don’t need it.

We’ve got Albert and C.C. and Derek and Johan (welcome back, Johan!) and Linsecum and Ichiro and Dustin and Cabrera and so many other great players. They all make spring, summer, and autumn feel special. Baseball has never needed manias or insanities, though the occasional outbreak of Fernando-mania in L.A. or Mark Fidrych in Motown was fun for a while.

Baseball has no time clock. It can be played at a leisurely pace. Or, the sport can turn up the tension, as it did in Game 6 of the last World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers, to produce one of the greatest and most suspenseful games ever played. They play 162 games in the Major League Baseball schedule — and don’t we all wish they had even more?

The lords of baseball keep tinkering with the National Pastime with their little, foolish money-making schemes. They’ve added playoff teams to make baseball resemble the ridiculous National Hockey League format, in which everyone and his brother makes the post-season playoffs. They put baseball in domed stadiums. They schedule World Series games for insomniacs. They look the other way while steroid-enhanced behemoths ruin the grace of the game with their unnatural brawniness.

No matter, really.

Baseball is so great that it can flourish at any time. I can’t wait for the 2012 season to unfold.

I love the New York Yankees more than clean air and clean water. But I’m afraid this won’t be their year.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say: Watch out for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Jon Friedman writes the Media Web column for MarketWatch.com. Click here to read his latest column.











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