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Opening Day

April 4, 2011 - Al Stephenson
It's lost a little of its luster. I'm no longer that wide-eyed kid that once withstood a visit to the doctor (dad didn't buy my illness) to stay home from school and watch the Tribe on Opening Day. I'm much more cynical today than I used to be. A couple of stars, some really good role players - why, I believe we can contend! That was me for a long time. Now that Opening Day has come and gone, I'm already depressed.

I was too young to remember 1954 (yes I was alive) and all the wins. I have seen replays of Willie Mays making the catch of Vic Wertz' line drive. Heck, what baseball fan hasn't? When I first started following the Cleveland Indians it was the early 60's and they had become the "we're out of it by the 4th of July" team that we learned to live with through three decades. They would occasionally have a good start, only to fade by the country's birthday. Wait til next year is a phrase that Cubbie fans were not the only ones to utter - year after dreadful year.

Then came the 1990's. We (notice the terminology) locked up our young stars with multi-year contracts. We sold out the SEASON - before it started no less. It was our time to shine and off we went to a couple of World Series. Didn't win them of course, but we were there and the phrase was not uttered in hopeful wistfulness. We would be back next year.

Now it's back to the 60's and the 70's and the 80's - oh my! There is little joy (or hope) in Mudville these days. Many Tribe fans cannot name more than 10 players on the roster. There are some diamonds in the rough. Two or three years from becoming major league stars. If the pattern of the last few years continues, that means we will no longer be able to afford them when free agency rears its ugly head. We will trade them for prospects - and the cycle will continue. Now you know why the luster has ebbed. And that's too bad.

It's baseball season. The sights, the sounds, the smells of the game. They should have this fan pumped up, not deflated. Hope should spring eternal, but I'm afraid it might never again.

The view from my seat suggests that I wish I could change loyalties. Pick a team that has a chance to contend and follow them religiously like I used to do with the Tribe.

I can't however. My team is likely to be pretty bad this season. But it is my team. We'll just have to see how WE do.


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