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Feel-good vibes as baseball returns

Feel-good vibes as baseball returns

How does it feel?

How many of those 19 million tickets sold so far at MLB.com -- a blistering record pace -- did you buy for this 2008 season?

How will you feel when President George Bush throws out a ceremonial first pitch just like William Howard Taft did to start a tradition a century ago? How magical will it be when Odalis Perez throws the first pitch at 8:05 p.m. ET on Sunday against an Atlanta lineup to formally open Washington's gorgeous Nationals Park?

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How did you feel the first time you saw Probable Pitchers listed?

How many last memories will you make at Yankee Stadium or Shea Stadium? How many dry eyes will there be in the house when the last Opening Day at The House That Ruth Built gets under way at 1:05 p.m. ET on Monday? Roy Halladay will start for Toronto in that game against the Baby Bombers. How will the Joe Girardi era play out, and will there be a 27th World Series championship for a fabled ballpark?

How can the Red Sox become the first club since 2000 to repeat as World Series champions when it seems like 29 other clubs believe they can win it all?

How can Tampa Bay be one of those? How can the Mariners? How can anyone doubt them or the Pirates or the Royals or the Marlins or anyone else, after watching the Rockies define "finishing kick" and then reach their first Fall Classic?

How will you get out of work on Monday to watch your team's opener?

How does it feel?

How can it be 100 years since the Cubs last won the World Series? How can the fates possibly deny a Cubs fan in 2008?

How can it be 100 years since Jack Norworth composed a song that would become known as "Take Me Out To The Ball Game"? How can you pass on a chance to enter a contest right here and maybe sing that song at the All-Star Game this July at Yankee Stadium?

How can it get any better for a high-tech baseball fan than this sudden rollout of MLB.TV with the new NexDef plug-in for 1.2MB viewing clarity online, or the MLB.com Video Alerts to watch immediate highlights on your mobile phone, or the new-and-improved MLB.com Gameday app loaded with more features? How will you get any work done with all of that and now Video Search?

How did the Dodgers and Red Sox just draw 115,300 fans for an exhibition baseball game? How can any sport in the world possibly top baseball?

How long will it take for Manny Ramirez to hit his 500th homer? How long will he stand there at the plate with his arms extended and just admire it when it happens? Maybe you noticed that he hit No. 491 in the first game of the season.

How lucky are we to live in this era of baseball? How can anything stop us from posting the first 80 million overall attendance season in history?

How excited are you to see Johan Santana start at Florida on Monday afternoon in his new life as a Mets pitcher? How will that $190.5 million the Mets have invested in two pitchers -- him and Pedro Martinez -- pay off for a club seeking its first World Series championship in 22 years? How did 22 years fly by just like that?

How would you react if someone proposed a fantasy trade of Albert Pujols and Ichiro Suzuki for Ryan Howard and Grady Sizemore? How loudly would you scream at first before you suddenly thought, "Hmm, I might do that."

How good will it be the next time you hear 2008 Hall of Fame Ford C. Frick Award recipient Dave Niehaus say of a Seattle homer: "Get out the rye bread and mustard, grandma, 'cause it's grand salami time!"

How does it feel?

How much do you miss: "It could be ... it might be ... it is!" Or: "That's a winner!"

How do you try your best to live in the past as a baseball fan without having to convince your colleagues at work that you are on top of 2008 culture as well? How can there be a better history lesson in life than teaching baseball to others?

How will you ever forget what it felt like the first time you played baseball yourself, the first time you watched a game at a Major League cathedral, the way it smelled, the way you felt when you really, really first knew what was going on out there?

How will Joe Torre do as the Dodgers' new manager? How could he possibly make the kind of career rocket-blasts like he enjoyed in going from being dismissed as Cardinals manager to the manager of a Yankees dynasty? How will the 20th anniversary season of Kirk Gibson's Miracle Homer make you feel?

How wild is it going to be on Monday at Citizens Bank Park, when the defending National League East champion Phillies open at 3:05 p.m. against the Nationals? How high are expectations in Philly, where they last won it all in 1980? How high is a Howard pop fly when he really gets under one? They are that high.

How will Chris Carpenter come back? How will Pujols' elbow hold up? How will Tony La Russa get back to a postseason when it seems like everything keeps changing around the Cardinals in the NL Central? How can Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and the Brewers possibly be denied an October after getting so close last year and bringing back a youthful and dynamic roster?

How cool is it to be a Reds fan and know that you always will get to enjoy Opening Day at home on the first Monday of a baseball season? Talk about tradition. How will this year's Findlay Market Parade feel before that traditional opener, when Dusty Baker takes his new team up against Brandon Webb and the Diamondbacks at 2:10 p.m.?

How long will it take for Baker's chief veteran, Ken Griffey Jr., to get to the 600 Home Run Club? Junior has 593. The only players in that club are Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Sammy Sosa.

How does it feel?

Opening Day
Countdown to Opening Day
•   March 23: Turnaround tales to be told
•   March 23: Rule 5 decisions loom
•   March 24: Free agents on the spot
•   March 25: Breakout players in 2008
•   March 25: Comeback candidates
•   March 26: Top storylines for '08
•   March 26: Top AL rookie candidates
•   March 26: Top NL rookie candidates
•   March 27: AL Cy Young candidates
•   March 27: NL Cy Young candidates
•   March 27: Breaking down '08 slate
•   March 27: Century since Cubs' title
•   March 28: Top AL MVP candidates
•   March 28: Top NL MVP candidates
•   March 29: Changing of guard at short
•   March 30: Predictions for '08
•   March 30: '08 milestones
•   March 30: Season preview

How will we know if Bonds and Roger Clemens are as much a part of baseball past as Honus Wagner or Harmon Killebrew or Rollie Fingers? How will we feel if some club in the middle of a pennant race in an era of competitive balance suddenly decides to take a shot at one of them for some extra lightning in a bottle? How will history judge two players who have done more statistically than anyone in their generation?

How can you watch Opening Day and not feel like everything in life is beginning now?

How are the Red Sox and A's already 1-1? How much longer will it be in our lifetimes before Major League Baseball expands beyond North America, and possibly to a baseball-crazy nation like we are seeing in Japan?

How did Clint Hurdle go in 2007 from a regular guy holding onto a big league managerial position to a rock star in Denver? How great would it be to be Clint Hurdle sometime?

How can Randy Johnson squeeze out just ... 20 ... more ... wins?

How do you decide which Chris Young in the NL West is better? The one who looks like a 30-plus homer lock in Arizona or the one in San Diego who seems like a 20-win season waiting to happen?

How will Erik Bedard and Felix Hernandez look if you're the opponent facing them both in a series at Seattle? "That doesn't mean we will win every day, but we have an opportunity to win," understated pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre.

How much do you already miss Craig Biggio?

How much longer before the Rangers, Rays, Mariners or Nationals make it to the World Series? Those are the only four active clubs left who haven't been there. How did that list of teams get so small?

How happy is Tigers manager Jim Leyland, deep down inside that outer demeanor of intensity and matter-of-fact no-nonsense. He's got Justin Verlander on the hill at 1:05 p.m. on Monday against Kansas City's Gil Meche. Leyland has a team on paper that very easily could get back to a World Series and maybe over the hump. How much better could the Tigers' lineup be with Miguel Cabrera adding protection and pop?

How much do you love that View Level view of the bay at AT&T Park in San Francisco? Or, for that matter, any view at AT&T Park? How hard has the wait been to get back and see games that count in the standings?

How much longer will it be before Red Sox Nation breaks Cleveland's record for most consecutive sellouts? It will happen in late summer. How will it feel to be at that game? How hard is it going to be to get a ticket to that one?

How loud would you yell "Play Ball!" if you were umpiring now?

How does it feel?

Mark Newman is enterprise editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["opening_day" ] }
{"content":["opening_day" ] }