Orioles fans can be a chronically grumpy lot. They tend to roll their eyes and sigh loudly when the subject of baseball comes up. That's what perpetual fourth-place finishes can do to otherwise decent people. (To this one can only add, thank heavens for the Eastern Division's last-place Tampa Bay Devil Rays, without whom our collective mood would be left in the dark spaces reserved for the latest American Idol reject and Dick Cheney.)
But today is different. It's Opening Day.
Opening Day does strange things to baseball fans. The grass is never so green. The ballpark food never tastes so good. All the teams are on equal footing; anything is possible. And so optimism reigns and, for at least a little while, the cloud of the also-ran, the perpetually out-of-it-by-August, and the no-pitch, no-hit roster is lifted. Even the owner doesn't seem so bad. On certain days. In the right light.
We will not venture a guess as to whether the Orioles will beat the Twins this evening in Minnesota or even how the team should fare this season. There's plenty of that kind of insight elsewhere in this newspaper. But we do know that today we feel good about their chances with Erik Bedard on the mound, even against an ace like the Twins' Johan Santana.
What's that you say? Some of the other starters look a little shaky? The outfield thin? The lineup something less than intimidating? The division's top teams are simply too talent-laden to be caught? Oh, give it a rest. If you can't maintain a delusion for one day then you are no baseball fan, sir or madam, you are some kind of clear-eyed realist. We'll have none of that.
Let there also be a ban on talk of performance-enhancing drugs, the slow pace of games, the designated-hitter rule and the Yankees. At least not until the hometown team is 10 games or so out of first place.
One of the joys of baseball is that most everyone gets a chance to shine. Yes, it's better to have those opportunities continue deep into October, but who can say that this won't be the year? It's a long season and all things are possible. At least they are today.