One last time before the new season begins: remember this picture as proof that anything is possible. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Tabula rasa: the blank slate. The record of the past is wiped clean; the sins of the past, washed away. All things are possible today. Each among us has our own belief of what is most likely to happen, but we need only look as far back as the last regular season game of the 2011 season to remind ourselves that anything can happen. The same fickle finger of fortune that sends a Robert Andino line drive just out of the reach of Carl Crawford's glove might send us anything this season.
All through the offseason, we Orioles fans have been mocked by the punditocracy and in turn by all those in their sway. For good reason, to be sure. Not by accident does a team get rejected by its entire first slate of GM candidates, and it takes a bit of work to get scouts banned from a country's baseball games. Today, none of that matters. Today, we are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams. Orioles Magic is our song. Respectability, and dare we say it (on Opening Day, yes! we dare!) contention, our dreams.
It's the chaotic and infinite potential that makes baseball the best game of them all. That, and the fact that every game begins as a possible legend: dueling perfect games exist until the batters make it otherwise. What if Jake Arrieta, freed from the ping-pong ball-sized growth in his elbow, ascends towards his ceiling? What if Brian Matusz follows up his 10+ ERA season the way Roy Halladay followed up a 10+ ERA season? Tommy Hunter could show us his true innings-eater potential, Jason Hammel could show us why he was sought out in trade by the Orioles. Wei-Yin Chen might prove himself to be a crafty Asian import just as Koji Uehara did.
Maybe Mark Reynolds will hit 40 home runs this year, and show greater agility with his offseason weight loss. Maybe J.J. Hardy will be healthy all year. Nolan Reimold, given a full season's playing time, might finally be what we want him to be. With the new, shorter porch in right field, lefty hitters like Nick Markakis and Chris Davis might park balls on the flag court all year. Adam Jones could step forward and lay claim to being one of the best outfielders in baseball; Matt Wieters could step forward and lay claim to being one of the best players in baseball. The Curse of the Andino could take even deeper root in the Boston sports fan consciousness. Will all of these things happen? Unlikely, but any one of them could, and if one of them can, then so might all the rest.
And now here is a little Opening Day prayer (tongue planted firmly in cheek), for while the gods will not save you in Baltimore, their offspring might:
Our Wieters, who art in Camden, hallowed be thy name,
Thy Gold Glove come, thy will be done,
When batting as it is when catching.
Give us this day our daily bombs, and forgive us our pessimism,
As we forgive those who've been pessimists against us.
And lead us into the World Series,
Or at least deliver us from last place.
For thine is the catcher, the power, and the future Hall of Famer
For ever, or at least until 2015.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||MINNESOTA TWINS|
|Nolan Reimold - LF||Denard Span - CF|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Jamey Carroll - SS|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Joe Mauer - C|
|Adam Jones - CF||Justin Morneau - DH|
|Matt Wieters - C||Josh Willingham - LF|
|Wilson Betemit - DH||Ryan Doumit - RF|
|Mark Reynolds - 3B||Danny Valencia - 3B|
|Chris Davis - 1B||Chris Parmalee - 1B|
|Robert Andino - 2B||Alexi Casilla - 2B|
Your starting pitchers are Jake Arrieta and Carl Pavano. Go O's!