In just over one month, a new baseball season will dawn with another fun-filled opening day at Busch stadium. My friends and I will set up a tent (hopefully with the tent top) on the parking lot across from Al Hrabosky's bar and sit back for three or so hours before the game to reminisce about years past and make projections for 2009. We will drink many beers and much on snacks and Jim and I will toss the ball around a bit. And it will be a good day.
Will the season be just as good as day one? Well, that remains to be seen. But if the Cardinals walked into spring training with all their birds in a row, so to speak, and without a doubt or care in the world, I'd be more concerned. I can't remember a season as long as I've had season tickets when the Cardinals roster has been built from all the right players in the prime of their careers. And, the teams who have seemingly bought perfection in recent history have been disappointed come playoff time.
So, I'm not worried that the Cardinals don't really have a second baseman. I am not concerned about our starting rotation that was plagued by injuries last year and whose most solid guy is former reliever, Todd Wellemeyer. It's not like he's a former groundskeeper or the beer guy. He's a good pitcher and has, to this point, proven himself as such. I'm not even worried that Joel Piniero is crying about not being selected for the Puerto Rican team's starting rotation nor that his biggest gripes at the moment are with a coach on the Cardinals staff. I'm not concerned because I am banking on Piniero being a professional and letting his actions speak louder than his words.
Last year, the Cardinals launched a new advertising campaign called PLAY LIKE A CARDINAL. And throughout the season, the campaign (done so eloquently by Waylon Ad in St. Louis, by the way), revealed what that statement means. In my mind, playing like a Cardinal goes far beyond the expected dedication and effort. It means that the seemingly impossible is possible and that the word CAN'T is not part of your vocabulary. It means that your belief is greater than your potential and you never quit or give up. It means that you not only love the game but you respect it. It means that sometimes you even surprise yourself with the things you are capable of doing in that uniform with the birds on the bat.
So being a Cardinal means you're the greatest? Well, yeah, in a sense. And being a Cardinal fan makes you pretty great too.