Wednesday, April 8, 2009

It’s early April, and that can only mean one thing: Opening Day for Major League Baseball has finally arrived! After months of being bombarded by dramatic winter trade talks, expensive free agent signings, and Spring Training rumors, it’s always a relief to see the players actually suit up and play ball. Indeed, this off-season was more tumultuous and gossip-ridden than any in recent history, with three main stories grabbing the bulk of the headlines.

The New York Yankees made the first big splash on December 10th by signing ace free-agent pitcher CC Sabathia for $161 million over seven years. Because committing $161 million to their books wasn’t enough during the greatest financial meltdown in our lifetime, the Bronx Bombers followed this expenditure two days later by signing pitcher A.J. Burnett for $82 million over five years. Add in their $180 million deal with first baseman Mark Teixeira, and the Yankees managed to spend $423 million over the course of two weeks. Let’s see Paris Hilton match that.

Then there was “Manny being Manny.” Manny Ramirez, known for his ability to wreck both his own team’s chemistry and the opposition’s pitching, couldn’t find a team willing to shell out the nine-figure deal that he wanted. In the end, after months of failed negotiations with multiple teams, Ramirez was forced to settle for a measly $45 million over two years with the Dodgers. Ramirez might have been better off following Alex Rodriguez’s example by ditching super-agent Scott Boras.

Speaking of Rodriguez: never one to be upstaged, A-Fraud managed to wrack up enough negative headlines that ESPN sportswriter Bill Simmons claims he has “broken the Tyson Zone” (ESPN). After his affair with Madonna (really?), Rodriguez faced his steroids scandal haphazardly, offering the “full” story over the course of a week instead of all at once. If that weren’t enough, Details featured a picture of the star kissing his own image in a mirror (picture courtesy of Details).

Yet the show must go on, and Opening Day always allows us to forget all of the off-field garbage and remember why baseball truly is America’s pastime. So, next time you can’t find anything exciting on television, try going out to the ballpark.

Patrick Hayes

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