Monday, April 04, 2005

We Come To It At Last

All I can say is this: It's about time.

We have been waiting for this day for almost six months. We've been waiting since Ron Gardenhire made that infamous non-move back in Game Two. Ever since Ruben Sierra launched that three-run homer off Juan Rincon in the eighth inning on October 9. Ever since Pat Borders so ignominiously ended his 16-year career with that most inexecusable of all baseball blunders: the passed ball.

We have been waiting for this day for 177 long, dark, and cold days. We've seen dead weight shed (Guzman). We've seen dead weight retained (Rivas). We bemoaned the exodus of a true Canadian folk hero (Koskie). Yet at the same time, we cheered as two key pieces stayed home, preserving hope for the future (Radke and Santana).

For 4,248 hours we have been awaiting the official return of our hometown nine. The foul stench of scandal emerged, doing all it could to dampen our excitement. We saw the return of the free-spending days of yesteryear, yet we sat patiently on the sidelines, confident in our battle-tested approach. Divisional opponents made bold moves in an effort to unseat us, one even trying to beat us at our own game.

For 254,880 minutes we have anxiously looked to this day. We have nibbled on the juicy nuggets of springtime the past two months. How would The Knee recover from a setback? Could illness truly fell a once-burly slugger? Would mediocrity (the utilitymen) or potential (Bartlett) emerge from the Scrum at Short? Could the Thunder from Down Under (Balfour) keep his head on straight and arm healthy?

For one entire off-season we waited patiently. A legend, one who was with us from the very beginning, saw his journey come to an end. A great many changes occured this past winter, profoundly shaping the game we all know and love. Yet in the end, none of it truly matters. In the end, only one thing really counts: the game.

Today, the cycle begins anew. Mistakes are forgotten. Optimism flows like wine at a springtime wedding. Wintery aches melt away like the snow on a balmy April afternoon. Baseball is back, and I can only say one thing: It's about time.

Let's play ball.