The ‘boys of summer’ are back

The weather our region has experienced during the past 10 days or so certainly has left us confused.

While the calendar tells us that spring arrived on March 20, we’ve experienced below normal temperatures and snow.

That’s expected in our region of the country this time of year, but if you have any doubts that spring is here, you need only know that baseball’s back.

Major League Baseball actually opened its 2014 regular-season schedule last weekend, when the Dodgers swept Arizona in a two-game series played at the cricket grounds in Sydney, Australia. That gives the Dodgers a 2-0 start to the season going into today’s 8:05 p.m. opening night game in San Diego.

Tri-State Area fans will have to wait just a little bit longer to get their first taste of regular-season baseball. That will happen at 1:05 p.m. Monday, when the Pirates host the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park.

Residents of our region have shown time and again they are among the most loyal fans in baseball. Despite the Pirates not having a winning record since 1992, we continued to support them. That support was rewarded last year, when the Pirates finished the regular season at 94-68, which earned them second place in the National League Central Division.

The season came to an end on Oct. 9 when the Pirates dropped a 6-1 decision to St. Louis in the fifth and deciding game of their National League Divisional Series, but it also set the stage for what fans are hoping will be an even better 2014, with games that could stretch to the end of October.

The Pirates attract most of the attention among baseball fans in our area, but there still are those pockets of Cleveland and even Cincinnati fans in our midst. The Indians will open their regular season at 10:05 p.m. Monday when they visit Oakland, and will open the home portion of their schedule at 3:05 p.m. Friday when Minnesota visits Progressive Field. The Reds, meanwhile, open their season at 4:10 p.m. Monday when they take on St. Louis at Great American Ball Park.

We all face plenty of serious concerns in our lives, and it’s true, baseball is only a game. But like spring itself, the return of baseball brings with it a sense of optimism. Fans around the country are able to look ahead and think about what might be. Spring – and the opening of the new baseball season – are markers that remind us that all things are possible.

Baseball’s back – we hope you’ll join us and sit back and enjoy.