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The Great American Game

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The month of April brings with it many things. It brings the rain, blooming flowers and signals the approaching conclusion of the school year.

Most importantly, the arrival of April means that baseball is back. Our national pastime has returned.

In late February, early-March, all 30 teams report to their Arizona or Florida spring training homes. Within the month of spring training, young players emerge, rosters take shape and the excitement begins to brew.

On opening day, just about every team thinks they have what it takes to win the World Series (keep dreaming Miami and Houston.) No matter what your record was a year ago, everyone gets some fresh faces and a clean slate.

While some teams’ chances of winning it all are much more realistic than others, each team starts the season with the belief that this is their year.

Favorites are chosen and Vegas lays down the odds, but teams still have to play all 162 games.

The 2012 campaign was filled with highs, lows, emerging stars and faltering veteran ball clubs as the Giants won their second title in three years. On the last day of the regular season, the Athletics won the AL West, the Orioles made the playoffs for the first time since the Ripken era and the Nationals dethroned the five-time NL East champion Philadelphia Phillies.

This offseason saw the already stacked Angels add former AL MVP Josh Hamilton to go along with Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. The Marlins cleaned house sending Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes and a few other players to the Blue Jays who also traded for NL Cy Young recipient, R.A. Dickey. The Braves added the Upton brothers to bolster their outfield with Jayson Heyward.

This season brings with it many uncertainties and predictions. The sexy choice for the World Series right now is the Nationals, Tigers or the LA teams (Angels or Dodgers). The most interesting aspect of the season to me has to be the race for last place in the AL East.

Unfamiliar to the cellar for the most part of their existence, the Red Sox and Yankees appear to be fading into the distance with the emergence of the Rays, Orioles and sudden additions made by the Blue Jays.

Regardless of what happens, one thing is for certain: the next seven months will be some of the most exciting of the year. Throw your predictions out the window now because they’ll most likely mean nothing. Games aren’t played on paper and they play 162 games for a reason.

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The Great American Game