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April 5, 2015 Queens NY  How do you know for sure if it is really spring?  Is it the temperature?  The date?  The flowers blooming?  No!  It’s when baseball begins.  Tonight on ESPN2, baseball officially launches with the St. Louis Cardinals facing the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.  The Cubs have been rejuvenated by manager Joe Maddon, one of baseball’s best.

Tonight’s game represents baseball turning the page as Rob Manfred takes over as commissioner from Bud Selig.  Finally, baseball is ushered into the 21st Century.  Wrigley Field is a symbol of this as the stadium has been significantly upgraded.  Baseball is rooting for the Cubs to be relevant.  With Theo Epstein at the helm of the decision-making, the Cubs should be perennial contenders, and a World Series ring may be right around the corner.

Tonight’s pitching matchup features newly acquired ace Jon Lester facing the Cardinal’s Adam Wainwright.  This is a heavyweight pitching duel.  With Kris Bryant, no relation to Kobe, being sent down to the minors for twelve days or games (does it really matter? it’s a horrible business decision), the Cubs seemed poised to be one of the more exciting teams.

Now, unfortunately for MLB, their nationally televised game is on ESPN2.  That’s not a good look.  Could you imagine the NFL’s first game of the season being on ESPN2?  MLB has to shed that mentality which is a remnant of the Selig era.  The Final Four of women’s college basketball in on ESPN (no number added).  Good for women’s college basketball that is worthy of such a stage.  But if I’m baseball, America’s national pastime, I ain’t playing the “B” side.  I wouldn’t play the “B” side for the men’s college basketball championship game either.  We’d just have to go head-to-head until they (other sports) get the message.  March Madness has crept into April, and baseball is the casualty.  When the NCAA Tournament started to spill into April, MLB should have looked at that as a declaration of war.  But I digress, or should I say “progress”?

Baseball and spring go hand-in-hand.  Here’s to a great game tonight.  A truly great game.  Not 9-7.  That’s not good baseball.  Let’s get an ol’ fashioned, high quality, 3-2 game.  When the Dodgers are good, that’s great for baseball.  When the Mets are good, that’s great for baseball.  When the Giants, Pirates, Reds, and Cardinals are good, that’s great for baseball.  But when the Cubbies are good…

Here’s to baseball having a great spring, summer, and fall.

Clifford Benton can be reached at cliffb@puresportsny.

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