An embarrassment of riches

The thing I love about baseball One of the many things I love about baseball is how much of it there is. There were 14 baseball games scheduled for today, and that's just counting the Major League games. Each of the 30 Big League teams plays 162 regular season games a season to determine who wins their division's pennant and which other teams grab wildcard spots. I'm not a fan of wildcard spots, precisely because they cheapen the long season, but that's a fight us traditionalists have already lost. Wildcards or not, there's a lot of glorious baseball happening.

There's not just a large volume of entertainment; there's enough games to let at least some of the random noise in the sport settle out. A short playoff series may tell you more about which team was lucky than which team was good, but a full regular season will usually separate the good teams from the bad teams.

The abundance of baseball doesn't just let the luck even out over the course of a long season. The embarrassment of baseball riches gives the game a pace and a cadence to the year. Baseball is my liturgical calendar. The cool months of spring feature a feeling out process as we try to figure out who's going to be good this year (not that we didn't have our suspicions coming into the season). By the heat of summer, some of us will know that this just isn't the year for our team, even though we can still root for wins and watch the rookies while dreaming of next year. Most teams spend the dog days striving. As fall beckons, pennant races will finish with a tense frenzy. Then comes the rush of playoffs followed by the rest and anticipation of winter--until pitchers and catchers report for spring training.

We're still in the feeling out phase of the season. I haven't gotten a good feel for my teams yet in the small sample size. My ancestral team has bumbled along, but my hometown team can't lose. I'm not ready to return the Royals to the World Series (but a guy can hope), just like I'm not ready to write off the Redbirds.

It's a long season. We're still figuring this out.