I love April. It reminds me of my favourite 'Simpsons' quote:
"To the most beautiful moment in life, better than the deed, better than the memory, the moment of anticipation"
That feeling of anticipation is never stronger than it is right now. Winter is over, Spring has arrived, girls are wearing less clothes, the Masters are a week away and the baseball season is finally upon us.
There's just so much to look forward too.
Of course on the flip slide no sport crushes optimism quite like baseball. Hey I love the game; but about half the teams in the league secretly know they will not be making the playoffs. With no salary cap and only eight playoff spots up for grabs its just about impossible for a team like the Toronto Blue Jays to make it in.
So how do you know if you're team has no chances of making the playoffs? The obvious answer is to assess your teams talent and compare and contrast with the other clubs in your division.
However a more fun way is to go onto their home website and take a look at the official team slogan and/or what the major headlines are. You will find more than enough clues on just how competitive your team will be in the first week in September.
Allow me to give you some examples:
Toronto Blue Jays:
SLOGAN: Hustle + Heart 2.0.
Nothing says a dearth of talent quite like the 'we're going to work really hard' message. You know what they don't have to emphasize in Philadelphia or Boston? Just how much heart the team has. They're too busy telling their fans just how talented and freakishly athletic and accomplished their roster is. As a 10 year old little league player I was often described as having a lot of talent. Of course I was also the guy that picked a lot of grass in the outfield, was afraid of the ball and maybe collected five hits in my career.
By the way what is it with this city and math? The Raptors marketing campaign had tons of adds where the copy read: DeRozan + Athleticism = Excitement. I ran the numbers and I don't trust their math. I believe DeRozan + Athleticism = Lottery Pick.
SLOGAN: P. Pride. Passion. Pittsburgh Pirates.
I can't tell if that is a slogan or a lesson plan from Sesame Street. Simple alliterations are not clever, they just show that you're prejudice against 25 other perfectly acceptable letter options. lame, lazy, losers.
The teams top headline centres on the fact that eight Pirates will be experiencing their first opening day. Of course for many this will be there only one. Maybe their slogan should have been: The 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates: Just who the F*&K are these guys?
SLOGAN: This is Birdland.
What does that even mean? Is that supposed to intimidate opposing teams? Birds haven't been scary since Alfred Hitchcock. Sure they're creepy, but that's really about it. I have a hard time imaging Derek Jeter warning Mark Teixeira to be careful when he goes to the plate, because, you know they are in ... Birdland.
As for headlines one reported that Brooks Robinson was hospitalized (He's fine!) and that former Oriole Randy Winn is retiring. Not sure if it is a sign but Winn was the active leader in most games played (1,717) without playing in the postseason. I'm sure that is just a coincidence, nothing to read into there.
Kansas City Royals
SLOGAN: Major League Moments
Again vagueness reigns supreme. I guess they are just reminding their fans that yes the Royals are indeed a Major League team. Though their is plenty of evidence to suggest the contrary, they are part of MLB, I looked it up.
SLOGAN: READY TO PLAY
Hey good on you Seattle! Most teams just woke up this morning, read the paper and were startled to learn that it was indeed opening day.
Most of the headlines were simple reminders that yes Felix Hernandez is still a Mariner, for now.
By the way if you are in Seattle area for the home opener you can get a magnetic schedule for your refrigerator. Think of it as a perfect opportunity to work on your ability to print the letter L.
SLOGAN: Expect It
I expect them to lose 100 games, I expect Jayson Werth will regret signing there and I expect the team to send daily updates on the health of Stephen Strasburg.
I couldn't find one but don't worry I found something better.
Check out this commercial promoting the 2011 squad
I haven't seen acting that stiff since (Insert your own Nicholas Cage joke here. Frankly I'm running out).
That has to be the worst ad campaign since the Miami Heat's ill-fated Fan Up promotion. You could promise the first 1,000 fans genital warts and you'd get a better reaction from your fan base than that 116 seconds of suck.
The top headline was an open letter from manager Terry Collins who promises: "We will always hustle on the bases, run balls down in the outfield and never take anything for granted, no matter the score of the game."
Translation: Yeah we will be on the losing end of a lot of 7-2 games but hey for the 3,500 fans still at the stadium will try to run really hard to first after hitting into an inning ending double play.
Once again when the message is we have plenty of heart and will work real hard just read between the lines, what they're really saying is 'Maybe Next Year'.