Let’s get ready to rumble

The stage crew is ready. The curtain is ready to be pulled. Lights. Camera. Action.

We present to you the Greatest Show on Earth, Major League Baseball 2012 style. You have waited with great anticipation since the final out of the 2011 season and here we go…..

How is that for an intro? While reflecting on this weekly column, I realized there is just not that much more that can be written or analyzed related to off-season news. It is just time to start watching some games.

If you follow the St. Louis Cardinals, you know the key stories of what has happened in spring training. It is time for the games to count. Has there ever been more anticipation for Opening Day in Cardinal Nation? Not in my lifetime.

This evening’s season opener in Miami is a special way to kick off the 2012 season as defending World Champions for the club. Media that are covering the game say it has been a playoff like/carnival atmosphere all week in preparation for opening the new stadium. Can you imagine the circus that would have ensued tonight’s game if Albert Pujols would have signed with the Marlins instead of the Angels?

On a quick side note, I absolutely love what the Marlins have done in reaching out to their community. I love ballparks being put in the heart of the city instead of out in suburbia…but that is just me.

The Cardinals have undergone tremendous change in the off-season. Do not forget or cast a blind eye to the rapid change going on in the game at-large as well. Three of the five 200 million contracts were signed this off-season, and none were handed out by teams named the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, or Mets. Television revenue is changing the contract landscape and resetting the market to new levels.

A second wild card team has been added to the playoff format. With the influx of TV money, and huge contracts now on the books, the 2012 trade deadline becomes different than ever before as so many more teams are now going to be in the playoff hunt.

2011 can never happen again. At least not  the drama that unfolded around the wild card race we have come to know since 1995. The purist in me hates the changes the game is undergoing. The baseball lover in me is glad the game is thriving in so many markets and realizes that change is always going to happen. The game morphs and moves on, and we have to as well.

While Cardinal fans will never forget the thrilling ride of 2011, anticipation for something new is brimming over. It is the hope of spring and Opening Day.

Let the Mike Matheny era begin! Let the Derek Lilliquist era begin! Here is to health and success for Adam Wainwright!

Get your ebenezers ready for the countless toasts to follow to the game we love so much. The games count now. The defending champs are ready to take the field with their fearless new leader. It is time to defend the crown.

Lights. Camera. Action.

“Take me out to the ball game.

Take me out to the crowd.

Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks.

I don’t care if I ever get back.

Well, it’s root, root, root for the home team.

If they don’t win it’s a shame.

For it’s one…two….three strikes you’re out

at the ‘ol ball game”.

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