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Keeler: Love of baseball fleeting

By Tommy Keeler - tkeeler@nvdaily.com

It's that strange, yet wonderful time of the year. That time of the year when I get sucked back in and fall in love with a sport that I love and hate.

College basketball season is officially over. The NFL season has been over for so long, I've almost forgotten who won the Super Bowl. We're still a week a away from the NHL playoffs, and weeks from the start of the always too-long NBA playoffs.

I'm one of the biggest tennis fans in the world, but even tennis is in a holding pattern for a little while. The tours have just finished their big 10-day stops in Indian Wells, Calif., and Miami. Now the tour heads into the clay-court season, which is always my least favorite, and in my opinion the most boring surface to watch the tours play on.

With all of my other favorite sports either done for the season or in a boring part of the year, it means all my attention can go to the start of baseball season.

I know it officially started last week in Tokyo, although don't tell that to ESPN which believes those games didn't matter, with two games between Oakland and Seattle. And ESPN will say that it started with a night game on Wednesday between St. Louis and Miami.

However, to me baseball season starts today. That's when the first regular, full slate of games will be. Although the New York Yankees (the only team that really matters to me) don't play their first game until Friday.

I have a love-hate relationship with the game of baseball. The beginning of the season is part of where the love comes in.

I always start out excited for the season. Maybe it's because there isn't a whole lot else to watch or the possibility of my fantasy team actually doing well.

Either way, the first couple of weeks are always great. Every team has a chance to be a surprise and do amazing things.

I even have my own opening-day ritual. I watch a tape of the show "Clubhouse," which was on NBC in 2004. It's about a bat boy for the New York Empires (I wonder which Major League team that's supposed to be?).

The bat boy is played by Jeremy Sumpter and in the first scene of the show, it's his first day as bat boy on opening day and he has to take the rosin bag and put it on the mound. As he does it, he stands there and looks around the empty stadium and puts his hands in the air as he shouts. The scene always gets me fired up for the season. Of course, I also like watching the show because the bat boy's sister is played by my favorite actress, Kirsten Storms (let's just say that gives me another reason to watch the show over and over and over).

Growing up I used to love the game of baseball, probably more than any other sport. It's the first sport I went to see professionally.

My church used to take trips to see the Pittsburgh Pirates at least once a year. They became one of my other favorite teams, behind the Yankees of course. I even used to have Dave Parker sweat bands.

I can remember watching baseball games as a kid, more than any other sport. However, somewhere along the way my love for the game faded.

Football and basketball became king to me, among the big three in the sports world. Maybe it was the steroid era that turned me off, or all the big contracts everyone was getting (although everyone in sports gets too much money these days).

Maybe it's simply that the season is soooo long -- it seems never-ending. It also doesn't help that the games last too long, and to me they're just boring at times. I like sports where there is non-stop action ... well, except for soccer (but I blame the lack of scoring for my disinterest in that).

Don't get me wrong, I still love baseball. I love all sports, but I just don't love it as much as I once did. It's definitely not my favorite.

Midway through the season, I probably won't even know who is in first place, and does it even matter who is in first in July? However, when September and October roll around, my love for the game will be back full-throttle.

As the playoff races heat up and the Yankees get ready to torture me with another unsuccessful postseason, I'll be glued to the games. Even going up against the college and NFL season, the World Series will once again have my full attention.

And today as the first slate of games gets under way, I'll get excited for another season and fall in love with the game all over again.

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