There's a certain magic about the start of the baseball season.
It's very fitting that the game returns in the spring, the season of beginnings. It's a time for optimism, as fans of every team in cities across the country are certain that their team will get to the playoffs, and even the World Series.
Baseball is a game that brings people together. It offers the chance for a family to enjoy an evening at the ballpark. It provides the opportunity for friends and neighbors to spend a warm summer evening on the deck, enjoying each other's company while listening to or watching a game.
More than any other sport, baseball cherishes its traditions and history. A visit to PNC Park offers parents and grandparents the chance to share their memories of watching Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell, two of the game's greatest players, their words helping to bring to life the men represented by the statues that stand in front of the stadium.
It's a chance to show pride in knowing that the best second baseman in the history of game, Bill Mazeroski, called our area home and had the privilege of playing for the Pirates.
This year's edition of the Pirates will open their season at 1:35 p.m. Thursday when they host Philadelphia. Cleveland, meanwhile, will open its season at 3:05 p.m. Thursday when it hosts Toronto, and Cincinnati will open its season at 4:05 p.m. Thursday when it hosts Miami.
Fans have been waiting for these opening games since last fall, when the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series. They have followed spring training games on the radio and Internet and pored over statistics, studying each player while preparing for this week. And, while the Pirates have not had a winning season since 1992, Tri-State Area residents continue to show their support, filling PNC Park on a regular basis. That loyalty was on display in December when hundreds of fans gathered at the Fort Steuben Mall to be a part of the local stop of the Pirates Caravan.
We face plenty of questions in our daily lives. We worry, for example, about the price of gasoline and wonder who our next president will be.
Those concerns aside, remember that it's spring, the season of optimism, a time to look ahead at what might be. It's a time when fans are sure that anything is possible.
We hope you will sit back and enjoy.