Take me out to the ballgame

Opening Day.

If you look at it with all emotions removed, it is only the first of 162 Major League Baseball games that will be played between now and the last week of September.

That clinical approach is accurate, however, only if you believe that baseball is nothing more than a game, not a daily contest that combines the best of well-thought-out strategies and athletic prowess, all of which is played out on a meticulously manicured field that is the centerpiece of a ballpark, and not a stadium.

It’s the one day that is better than any other in showing us that the long winter has come to an end. A look at the calendar might tell us that spring arrived last Wednesday, but the return of baseball offers a much more definitive marker.

Pirates fans will have their attention focused on Cincinnati on Thursday. That’s where the Pirates will open their season at 4:10 p.m. when they take on the Reds. The home-opener for the Pirates will take place at 1:05 p.m. Monday, when St. Louis visits PNC Park.

Cleveland, meanwhile, opens its season at 4:10 p.m. Thursday in Minnesota and will play it’s home-opener at 4:10 p.m. Monday against the White Sox.

Many of the experts have predicted that the Pirates will have little chance at contending for the National League Central Division title. But that means little to the true fans. Because while we cannot know for sure how next sic months will play out, a great part of the magic of the first day of the baseball season is that it is a day when everything is possible, a time when optimism reigns.

Baseball’s back — please join us in sitting back and enjoying the games.