Selig excited for start of the 2013 season
MLB Commissioner: 'It's a beginning. You have a sense of renewed hope'
It sometimes is lost in the press of events, but the Commissioner, Bud Selig, is first and foremost, a baseball fan.
This was why, as a private citizen, he became deeply involved in the first place, trying to find a team for Milwaukee after his beloved Braves moved to Atlanta.
So, looking for some season-beginning perspective, we asked the Commissioner what Opening Day meant to him.
"Renaissance," Selig said.
He said some other things, as well, and we'll get to those, but "renaissance," like Opening Day itself, is a very good place to start.
The start of another baseball season is a rebirth, a revival, a renewal, and you don't have to be a baseball poet to feel that way. The game reopens and brings with it promise and high expectations. There is not enough room for the hopes of all 30 franchises to be fulfilled, but those hopes can still have another chance in another April.
The Commissioner used to employ the term "golden renaissance" to describe baseball's condition. This isn't that. After it appeared that, by measurements of attendance and viewership, baseball had a larger following than ever before, the "golden renaissance" appeared to be an understatement.
Baseball, by those standards and by the standard of increased competitive balance, is bigger and better than ever. But when the Texas Rangers play at the Houston Astros Sunday night, this will represent a renaissance.
What it won't represent is an Interleague game. That notion will require some adjustment for those of us accustomed to finding the 'Stros in the National League Central as opposed to the American League West. The Astros are starting over in more ways than one, but they were willing to make the move that evened the leagues at 15-15, and we wish them well, even if their current direction is uphill.
On Monday the larger renaissance sets in, with 12 games, and by Tuesday, weather permitting, all 30 clubs will have played baseball.
"It's spring," the Commissioner said. "And it's been a long, cold winter, especially around here [in Milwaukee]."
I can't speak for the portions of the nation that don't have four seasons, but in the sectors of the upper Midwest that my family has called home for 165 years, we spend considerable time looking diligently for signs of spring.
The first robin was always one certain sign. But in the Milwaukee market for many years, the first Robin was Yount. When he and the Brewers reappeared, that was a terrific sign that, even if the weather still had Arctic overtones, at least better days were within sight.
"It's a beginning," the Commissioner said. "You have a sense of renewed hope."
Selig speaks frequently of baseball owing its fans "hope and faith." That's what the push toward parity has been about. When another April comes around, the more franchises that have a genuine chance to win, the stronger the game is.
Look at the Major Leagues. You can make an argument that at least 22 teams -- or more than 73 percent -- have a genuine chance to win something of value. Try that out on the other North American professional sports. Baseball is becoming a role model for competitive balance.
"It's really exciting," Selig said. "Opening Day is exciting, not only for baseball, but for the entire country."
It is exciting. We are excited to see the game again. The opener is a terrific occasion unto itself, but it's also a gateway for the 161 games to follow.
We grant the possibility that there are people in this fair land who may not be as excited as we are about Opening Day. We understand that, in a democratic society, people have the freedom to sometimes be mistaken.
But as the Commissioner summed up, we find Opening Day in four basic categories:
Renaissance. Spring. Beginning. Exciting.
We are 4-for-4 and the umpire has not even said "Play Ball!" Opening Day beckons and it is once again a great time to be a baseball fan.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.