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Baseball has finally returned

We Americans have a lot on our minds these days.

We continue to worry about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected us — and what changes and challenges still lie ahead of us.

We are confronting social issues that have hung over our heads for centuries and looking for ways that will allow all Americans to move forward with a better understanding of the concerns that touch us all.

We remain paranoid of the Russians.

We’re worried about jobs and where the economy is headed.

Some of us support President Donald Trump — and some of us cannot wait to vote for Joe Biden in November.

All of those concerns, weighty as they are, likely will fade into the distance during the next few days, if only for a short time, because baseball’s back.

There’s a certain magic that surrounds Opening Day in Major League Baseball. This year’s opening day was different from any we ever have experienced on many levels, not the least of which is that it came in the middle of summer — and not at the beginning of spring. The season will be just 60 games, instead of the traditional 162 games, setting up an interesting sprint to the playoffs in place of the time-honored long march.

And even though it is near the end of July, there remains a sense of renewal and a feeling of optimism that stretches across communities from Boston to San Diego, from Seattle to Miami, as fans are sure that this will be the year their team can make a pennant run.

In truth, real fans of the game have been looking forward to the return of baseball since shortly before midnight on Oct. 30, when the Washington Nationals took a 6-2 win over the Houston Astros to claim their first World Series title.

For local fans, that nearly nine-month wait came to an end at 8:15 p.m. Friday when the Pirates opened the regular season in St. Louis. They’ll open the home portion of their schedule at 7:05 p.m. Monday when Milwaukee visits PNC Park.

The Indians, meanwhile, opened at 7:10 p.m. Friday when they met Kansas City in Cleveland.

Baseball cherishes its history and traditions more than any other sport. It offers a way for families to connect, as grandfathers and fathers pass their memories of the greats of the game onto their children and grandchildren. It is unlikely we will be able to attend games in person this year, but the sport still offers a relaxing way to spend a summer afternoon or evening sitting on the porch or in the living room and listening to the play-by-play on the radio or watching a telecast while enjoying a favorite beverage, or just the company of a son, a daughter, a spouse, a brother or a sister, a friend or a neighbor.

Opening Day offered a chance to look ahead at what might be, a time when fans young and old are sure that all things are possible.

Baseball’s back.

We hope that you’ll take the time to enjoy.

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