As any red-blooded fan of the traditional national pastime knows, this week marks the opening of the Major League Baseball season. The World Champion Atlanta Braves (it’s always fun to say that when you’re a fan) begin defense of their title against the Cincinnati Reds. Full disclosure, though: I grew up a Reds’ fan and still occasionally wear my “C” hat to games at Truist Park.
In normal years, Cincinnati always opens the season at home. That’s a nod to tradition (a commodity in short supply these days) in honor of the Reds being MLB’s oldest franchise. Because of the stupid strike this year, the team is not being accorded that accolade. And that’s a shame. It’s really a holiday in the Queen City on the banks of the Ohio River. There’s the Findlay Market Parade through town, a little bit of beer-drinking (lots of German settlers at one time produced product in 36 different breweries – and I don’t mean the boutique ones populating many street corners today), and the culminating ceremonies at the ballpark. Former Reds’ heroes are always in attendance and being at the game is basically regarded as an excused absence from school (and work).
The beginning of the season always brings with it prognosticators telling fans which teams seem to be the best positioned to dominate their divisions and eventually appear in the World Series in October. Most of the time the pundits are about half right. Not a whole lot of oddsmakers in Las Vegas picked the Braves to be standing alone hoisting the trophy last year.
But it’s part of the fun to talk about how certain off-season trades or free agency helped or hurt teams. Fortunately, there are several ballclubs that have strong squads, at least on paper. What the guessing game can’t do is take into account future injuries and reliable players just having off years. Losing a couple of key hitters or pitchers can make a big difference. Of course, accidents and sub-par years can allow for new stars as well. When Ronald Acuna was hurt early on in 2021 and was out for the season, many said the Braves were toast. But guys such as Joc Pederson, Jorge Soler, Guillermo Heredia, and, of course, Eddie Rosario, came alive and the Bravos flourished.
It definitely takes all the right things happening at all the right times to become champions. And it’s especially difficult to win two World Series in a row. The Yankees are the last team to do it (1977-78), and the Reds won back-to-back in 1975-76. But no team since has repeated.
Fortunately, hope springs eternal every Opening Day. Some of the best teams may fall flat while some of the worst-appearing teams will put it all together and have a magical season.
That same thought translates into politics too. Right now, the pundits are forecasting that Republicans are going to win big in November. If that happens, the inevitable question will become, will Biden run for a second term? There are already numerous possible GOP presidential candidates vying for position in the early going for the 2024 White House sweepstakes. Names such as Nikki Haley, Kristi Noem, Tom Cotton, Ron DeSantis, some guy named Trump, Greg Abbott, Mike Pompeo, Ted Cruz, Tim Scott, another guy named Trump (that would be Don, Jr.), Mike Pence, and more seem to be poised to toss hats into the ring.
If Joe Biden decides he’d like another go at things, he’s the frontrunner on the Democratic side. As history has proven, it’s very, very difficult to run against a sitting president. But if he should want to spend more time in Delaware (and even if he doesn’t come to that conclusion himself), well, there are one or two or eight or ten public figures who might just pounce at the opportunity to take the country’s reins. Many of them are already making some noise and emerging into the spotlight.
Kamala Harris would probably think she deserves a shot at the brass ring. Ditto Pete Buttigieg, Senators Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar; Governors (past and present) such as Roy Cooper, Gavin Newsome, Gretchen Whitmer, and Phil Murphy. Plus, no list would be complete without Hillary Rodham Clinton. She’d probably like to hit another re-set button.
If you’re asking, “Who the heck are most of these people?” don’t forget that some guy with the unlikely presidential name of Barack Hussein Obama was a virtually unknown Senator in 2006 before being elected in 2008. Place your wagers now for the best odds, whether it’s for baseball or the Oval Office. And keep a scorecard handy. You can’t tell the players without one.
©MMXXII. William J. Lewis, III – Freelance Writer