The 2009 Major League Baseball season starts on Sunday night, when the Atlanta Braves visit the Philadelphia Phillies. On Monday, 13 more clubs will host their Opening Day games. We asked a distinguished group of fans — one for each of MLB’s 30 teams — to account for their passion. (Teams are listed in alphabetical order by city within their division — we’re making no predictions on the order of finish. )
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
WHY I LOVE THE BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Of course it’s hard to be an Orioles fan. That’s what eleven losing seasons will do to you. And yes, I know the ownership is incompetent. But as conservatives, we know you must never change your team. And being an Orioles fan does have its advantages: Camden Yards is still one of the nicer parks in the league, made even nicer with dismal attendance. You can’t beat the Italian sausages and ribs. You can tell the Yankees fans how awful the Red Sox are and make fun of the Yankees with Red Sox fans. Joe Angel, Fred Manfra, and Gary Thorne are three of the best broadcasters in the business, and they know how to make bad games enjoyable. And 40 percent of the time the Birds actually win!
– Martin Morse Wooster writes and edits in Silver Spring, Md., when he isn’t sitting in Section 338.
WHY I LOVE THE BOSTON RED SOX
Walking through a Fenway Park turnstile is the sweetest feeling on earth. The charm of baseball’s oldest ballpark is largely thanks to its connection to the past. There’s the left-field home of Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, and Jim Rice; the red seat in a sea of green bleachers where Ted hit the park’s longest ball; the hand-operated scoreboard; the five World Series flags earned between 1903 and 1918, and the anguished wait to raise a sixth in 2004. There’s personal history there, too: memories of waiting out rain delays in makeshift, garbage-bag ponchos as a little girl, and of my husband proposing to me in the very same bleachers years later.
The Sox have always paid tribute to their past, but recent history holds valuable lessons for the future, too. The miracle of 2004 taught Sox fans never, ever to give up hope; 2007 proved the benefits of disciplined persistence. And the 86 years between celebrations taught us to savor every happy moment.
– Courtney Myers works in public policy in Arlington, Va.
WHY I LOVE THE NEW YORK YANKEES
Last year, my hometown Bronx Bombers failed to make the playoffs for the first time since the strike-shortened 1994 season. So they did what any deep-pocketed, big-market team with 26 World Series titles would do — they spent $423 million on three of baseball’s most prized free agents: C. C. Sabathia, A. J. Burnett, and Mark Teixeira. Pricey free agents don’t guarantee wins, of course — but they sure help. I love the Yankees for sparing no offseason expense or on-field effort to win each and every year, each and every game.
The riff goes that the Yankees buy their championships — and that will be a dominant theme if Vegas is right and the Bombers win it all in 2009. But that fails to account for the team’s farm-grown talent — lesser-known guys like Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada, who’ve never played a game they were willing to lose. Other teams would spend as much — if they could. So file that Yankee hatred away with class envy and related resentments, and pass the peanuts.
– Edward John Craig is the managing editor of NRO.
WHY I LOVE THE TAMPA BAY RAYS
The Rays make Tampa proud and are an integral part of Florida’s professional-sports scene. They truly represent the word “team.” The players step up, commit themselves to the game, and have a high level of motivation and enthusiasm that translates into a winning formula. At the helm, manager Joe Maddon has guided these talented athletes and shown his passion for the game. Last year, against all odds, the Rays made it to the World Series. They were one of baseball’s most talked-about teams and success stories. Florida is fortunate to have the Rays right here in the Tampa Bay region.
– Bill Galvano, a Republican, is a representative in the Florida legislature.
WHY I LOVE THE TORONTO BLUE JAYS
When I was around seven, I joined my grandfather on the sofa in Toronto. He was watching the Blue Jays on TV. “See that player on the screen?” he said. “I can ask him to get a hit for you.” The player was Shannon Stewart. My grandpa picked up the phone and dialed an imaginary number.
“How can he hear you?” I asked.
“He’s got a phone in his helmet,” he replied. In fact, Grandpa knew the habits of every ballplayer at the plate. “If you can hear me, tap your helmet,” he said. Stewart did. “Good. I’ve got Nathaniel here, and I was wondering if you would try to get a hit for him? If you will, tap your bat on the plate.” Stewart did. A moment later, Stewart doubled. After he slid into second, my grandpa — still on the phone — said, “If that was for Nathaniel, brush off your pants.” Once again, Stewart did as told. From that point on, I have loved baseball.
– Nat Frum is a ninth grader in Washington, D.C.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
WHY I LOVE THE CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Known as the “Second Team in the Second City,” the Chicago White Sox opened many eyes by winning the 2005 World Series, ending an 88-year drought. By playing a grinding style of baseball that appropriately represents the hard-working Irish population of south Chicago, they showed that an overlooked organization could reach the apex of the baseball world. Average fans saw that the White Sox are simply the game’s most entertaining team. From Ozzie Guillen, the club’s manager and FCC nemesis, to the mix of future Hall of Famers and burgeoning prospects, the White Sox created a rollercoaster season full of drama.
The Pale Hose enter the 2009 campaign attempting to discredit critics by defending their divisional crown. They relish this underdog role, though. Unlike the team up north, the White Sox don’t rely on curses to dismiss an underperforming season: They just win.
– Adam Pascarella, a junior at the University of Michigan, is managing editor of The Michigan Review.
WHY I LOVE THE CLEVELAND INDIANS
If you root for underdogs, you have to love the Cleveland Indians. They haven’t won a World Series in 60 years. During the 1970s and 1980s, the one constant in baseball was that the Indians would be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention by Opening Day. (Their record of futility was so endearing that it inspired three Hollywood comedies.) Still, they plugged away in workmanlike fashion. No whining. No complaining. No excuses. Always a sense of possibility.
In the last 14 years, with a spectacular new stadium and loads of talent, the Indians have become perennial contenders: seven Central Division championships, four ALCS appearances, and two World Series appearances. Yet they’ve maintained their blue-collar essence.
Cleveland fans expect their pro teams to reflect the city — tough, determined, and optimistic. No place for prima donnas. Even in the years of ineptitude, the Indians always delivered.
– Peter Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
WHY I LOVE THE DETROIT TIGERS
Three seasons ago, the Tigers almost repeated their once-a-generation magic. They went from 119 losses in 2003 to the storybook run of 2006. My most indelible baseball memory may be watching the ALCS with my kids when Magglio Ordóñez launched a ball into the left-field stands of Comerica Park in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, sending the Tigers to the World Series once again. Alas, we went on to learn how costly pitcher fielding errors can be. A couple of months later, however, we brought home a new cat from the county shelter and named him Magglio.
– John J. Miller is NR’s national political reporter.
WHY I LOVE THE KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Pirates slugger and Mets baseball announcer Ralph Kiner once said, “If Casey Stengel were alive today, he’d be spinning in his grave.” At least Stengel would have something witty to say about the woeful Kansas City Royals. It’s hard to be a fan of the Royals these days, but the team built by the late Ewing Kauffman is still easy to love. Kauffman fashioned the Royals with the same energy, resources, and entrepreneurial genius that made him a successful businessman. His Royals Baseball Academy was the laboratory where the science of baseball was discovered. Kauffman built a model sports franchise, a spectacular stadium, and a championship team. Royals fans were more likely to see a double stretched into a triple than a home run in their park, and they watched their best players hustling to beat out infield hits. Love can do strange things, including make you a Royals fan.
– Matt Pozel is an associate of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
WHY I LOVE THE MINNESOTA TWINS
I’ve loved the Twins ever since Calvin Griffith moved the Washington Senators franchise to Minnesota in 1961. The Griffith family cultivated an organization devoted to scouting baseball talent, developing an excellent farm system, inculcating baseball fundamentals, preaching team play, and signing local heroes such as Kent Hrbek and Joe Mauer.
Game 6 of the 1991 World Series, with the Twins playing the Atlanta Braves and trailing three games to two, provides one of the team’s emblematic moments. Before the game, Twins great Kirby Puckett called the team to attention: “I just have one announcement to make: You guys should jump on my back tonight. I’m going to carry us.” Kirby carried the team until the bottom of the eleventh, when he hit the walk-off home run that made the seventh game an anticlimax. If you saw that game, you remember it, and you understand how the team might elicit a fan’s love.
– Scott W. Johnson is a Minneapolis attorney and contributor to Power Line.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
WHY I LOVE THE OAKLAND ATHLETICS
There are many reasons to love the Oakland Athletics. There’s the rich team history, which has provided continual excitement from the drama of the Reggie Jackson era to the glitz of the Moneyball years. Another reason is that the A’s offer one of the best home-game discounts in baseball: “Double-Play Wednesday,” when outfield seats are $2 and hot dogs are $1 — a great day to take a whole Little League team to a game.
This year brings new hope for A’s fans after back-to-back losing seasons. Big, old, juiced-up No. 16 — Jason Giambi — is back in an A’s uniform, and general manager Billy Beane has signed slugger Matt Holliday, star shortstop Orlando Cabrera, and infielder Nomar Garciaparra. Watch out Angels — the A’s are breathing down your necks for the American League West title!
– Tracie Sharp is president of the State Policy Network.
WHY I LOVE THE LOS ANGELES ANGELS
Loving the Angels wasn’t technically a matter of choice — my father was an original season-ticket holder when the “California” Angels first moved to Anaheim, and I spent my blissful 1970s childhood marinating in Winston Llenas–flavored failure rather than joining the Steve Garvey bandwagon up the 110. But the original “Yes We Can” juggernaut put its hooks in me, Bobby Grich’s pivot-work was almost as inspiring as his mustache, and even the Bosch-style nightmare of waiting in line for never-to-be-cashed-in 1982 World Series tickets only cemented the bond. Now, aside from habit, I love the team because it plays exciting, fundamentally sound baseball and reliably beats Moneyball darling Billy Beane like a gong.
– Matt Welch is editor-in-chief of Reason magazine.
WHY I LOVE THE SEATTLE MARINERS
When I was seven years old in 1977, nearly 60,000 Seattleites packed the Kingdome to see the Mariners lose their inaugural game to the Angels, 7–0. That year, the M’s ended their season with a record of 64–98. Forget the record. Seattle had arrived.
But the novelty of losing wore thin, as did the grungy concrete edifice in which the team labored, night after night. Seasons dragged on before seas of empty blue seats. Fans in Seattle proved two lattes shy of fanatical.
Then 1995 happened. In a first-round playoff series, the AL West champion Mariners trail the evil Yankees 5–4 in the 11th inning of the decisive Game 5. Seattle pitcher Randy Johnson has all but locked up the Cy Young Award, and Lou Piniella Manager of the Year honors. With the bat hoisted high over his trailing shoulder and wavering in the air, Edgar Martinez rips a two-run, game-winning double down the left-field line, consummating an undying love for America’s pastime in Seattle.
– Jeffrey J. Cain is a founding partner of American Philanthropic.
WHY I LOVE THE TEXAS RANGERS
Most people would never understand how someone could love a team that has never won anything of much consequence. The Rangers are like the Cubs, without the history. While we have never been to the World Series or even gotten past the first round of the playoffs (is this where I mention how much I hate the Yankees?), my fondest memories as a child are of going to Rangers games with my dad. Watching players like Nolan Ryan, Ivan Rodriguez, and Rusty Greer play with the passion, enthusiasm, and dedication they exhibited inspired me, not only on the baseball field, but also in life. While we always fell short, I remained optimistic that we would eventually win — and win the right way. Seeing these same qualities in Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, and Ian Kinsler makes me think it’s just a matter of time!
– Greg Sindelar is director of operations for the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
WHY I LOVE THE ATLANTA BRAVES
Radio did it. In 1969, I stumbled on an Atlanta Braves broadcast on a radio station in my North Carolina hometown. Thus began a love affair that hasn’t ended. The relationship intensified in 1980 when the Braves moved their Class A Carolina League affiliate to Durham. The Bulls fueled a whole new passion for baseball in the area, years before Ron Shelton made his famous movie. I saw kids who would eventually reach the majors and win 14 straight division titles, including Chipper Jones, Steve Avery, Ron Gant, Mark Lemke, and Jeff Blauser.
Continuity and class may be rare commodities in sports, but the Braves act like professionals due in large part to the presence of Bobby Cox, who’s been in the front office as manager or general manager for all but four of the past 32 years. Because TBS no longer carries 150-plus games a year, the Braves may no longer be “America’s Team.” But I’ll always have a tomahawk on my chest.
– Rick Henderson, a former editorial writer at the Rocky Mountain News, publishes the Deregulator blog.
WHY I LOVE THE FLORIDA MARLINS
The Florida Marlins have won two World Series. The 1997 team was a collection of big-name, high-paid mercenaries. Six years later, the 2003 Marlins had promise, but were mediocre at the halfway point of the season. Then they went on a second-half run that shocked the world. A collection of young, unknown, and low-paid (by baseball standards) players wound up defeating the highest-paid and most famous collection of players in baseball, the New York Yankees, in the 2003 World Series.
I love the Marlins because in 2003, they reminded me what America is all about. It doesn’t matter if you don’t start out famous. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t go to the right schools or grow up in the right circles. In America, all that matters is the size of your dreams and your willingness to work to achieve them.
– Marco Rubio, a Republican, is the former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.
WHY I LOVE THE PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
I’m a smoker. From the Phillies, I learned the delights of cigars at the impressionable age of eight. On my first visit to Connie Mack Stadium, I saw a doubleheader against the Pirates and encountered the aroma of a lit cigar. This was a scent about which I wanted to know more. Little did I know that my favorite Phillie, Dick (“Richie”) Allen, was in the dugout lighting up. During my days as a Temple University undergraduate, I passed on what I had learned and smoked cigars in the upper decks of Veterans Stadium, hoping the young and impressionable would pick up a civilized activity that was rapidly becoming a vice.
Today, ballparks are smoke-averse. But as long as the land of the free and the home of the brave does not embark on another wave of prohibition, I will fire up a decent Honduran while tinkering in the basement and listening to Phillies games on my wireless.
– D. G. Hart is the author of the forthcoming book From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin: The Religious Right and the Collapse of American Conservatism.
WHY I LOVE THE NEW YORK METS
I fell in love with baseball when I was seven years old, watching the Mets. Which means I fell in love with the Mets. And the main reason for both was that I was already in love with my dad, who had inherited a love for baseball from my grandfather and passed it on to my younger brothers and me as if it were the world’s most coveted legacy. Which, of course, it was — as I now tell my youngest son, age seven.
On green grass in the bright sunshine of glorious summer Sundays, we’d watch the games unfold. The outcome was never really in doubt: In those days (the mid-1960s), the Mets were awful — though awful with charm. (As I was to learn in the ensuing 40-plus years, there are all kinds of awful.) But here was the true allure of baseball: It’s not about the outcome but the journey. That part never changes, whether the Mets lose 100 games (as they’ve often done) or win it all (as they’ve done only twice). In each game, there is mystery: something even the sharpest, most experienced eye may never have seen before, and something that a culture infatuated with numbers and records and stats may not record in its box scores. There is no clock: It’s just ability against ability. It’s a team game in which individual talent matters as in no other. The season is a marathon in which the highs and lows are always one pitch away from turning around, and only the strong survive — at least until next year, because there’s always next year. There’s always spring.
– Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, is the author of Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad.
WHY I LOVE THE WASHINGTON NATIONALS
America’s best baseball columnist (and arguably its best sports columnist) wrote for several decades in a town that had no baseball team. For Tom Boswell of the Washington Post, as well as for D.C.-area sports fans, this was injustice on a grand scale. Correcting that shameful state of affairs is the reason I love the Nats.
More than most sports, baseball lends itself to, and is enriched and enhanced by, great journalism. Hard-core baseball fans are, generally speaking, serious readers who respect and admire literary sportswriting. For fans like us, the quality of writing in the local paper is as important as the play on the field.
When all of the arguments about why Washington should have a baseball team were being bandied about a few years ago — it’s a fabulously wealthy market, the nation’s capital should host the national pastime, and so on — I always had a different argument in mind: Think of how interesting and enjoyable Boswell’s columns about a hometown club would be! He has made even a team as lousy as these Nats worth following. No small feat, that.
– Nick Schulz is editor-in-chief of The American.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
WHY I LOVE THE CHICAGO CUBS
I have a T-shirt in Cubs blue that reads: “Every team can have a bad century.” I was a bigger baseball fan when the Cubs pretty much had the same lineup for a decade. Now it changes every month and I can’t even name two-thirds of the players. Still, the only perfect place on earth is Wrigley Field. Here’s a secret: You have to sit in the bleachers. Go to a day game, the way it was meant to be played on this field under God’s lights. And get a frosty malt.
This is making me feel old, but so what. I will be there on Opening Day, freezing my tush off. And everyone will be saying this is the year blah, blah, blah. Will the Cubs finally will win a World Series and break their curse? There’s still time to become the team of the 21st century.
– Stephen Moore, a senior economics writer for the Wall Street Journal editorial page, is the co-author of The End of Prosperity.
WHY I LOVE THE CINCINNATI REDS
Rooting on the Reds every summer is a Cincinnati tradition. Who can forget watching a head-first slide by Pete Rose, seeing Tom Browning’s perfect game, or cheering on the Big Red Machine of the 1970s? Some of my fondest memories are of walking in the Findlay Market parade held on Opening Day — a Cincinnati holiday — and of listening to Marty and Joe on the radio covering the games as only they could.
– Steve Chabot, a Republican, represented Ohio’s 1st congressional district from 1995 to 2009.
WHY I LOVE THE HOUSTON ASTROS
No other team with a history of falling just short brings such joy to its fans. Go ask some Cubs or Rangers fans how happy they are. Sure, I want to see the Astros win it all, but I wouldn’t trade the classic 1980 and 1986 National League Championship Series games for anything (Bruce Bochy getting run over by Pete Rose, who should have been out by four steps; Billy Hatcher’s foul-pole home run that breathed brief life back into our hopes — no way the Mets would have beaten Mike Scott in Game 7). And though we didn’t win it all, the late-season heroics on the way to the 2005 World Series will be forever etched in my psyche. I love the Astros because they never give up, and because they have taught me to find satisfaction in striving to be the best I can be.
– Bill Peacock is vice president of administration and director of the Center for Economic Freedom at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
WHY I LOVE THE MILWAUKEE BREWERS
I love the Brewers because, among other things, they help prove that Milwaukee is a major-league city befitting a major-league team. We lost one once, and we almost lost the Brew Crew, too. How could this working-class, beer-making (and beer-drinking) town not savor our team and its heroes? They include good, decent, regular guys like Robin Yount, Gorman Thomas, and now Ryan Braun and his teammates, who untuck their jerseys after victories in honor of a player’s working-class father. Plus, Miller Park is home to the famous sausage races, about which we have a wonderfully human combination of pride and embarrassment (but in that order). There’s also play-by-play announcer Bob Uecker, whose self-deprecatory humor properly reflects the city’s Midwestern humility. For such a supposedly bush-league place, by the way, our former owner is the commissioner who revived the sport, and our 2008 season lasted a day longer than that of the Cubs. The 2009 Brewers season will last even longer.
– Michael E. Hartmann is the director of research and evaluation at the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.
WHY I LOVE THE PITTSBURGH PIRATES
For fans of the Pirates, baseball hell began one awful day in October 1992, in Atlanta, with the unholy sight of triumphant, “tomahawk-chopping” Jane Fonda, Ted Turner, and Jimmy Carter delivering Armageddon. All the losing seasons since may be the result of the baseball gods divining that the Pirates must endure a long period of penance for this sin against America and its national pastime.
Still, we’ve had plenty of history and happiness — 122 years’ worth, to be exact. There’s a handful of World Series wins, including the first World Series. Our 1925 club was extraordinary, one of the best ever. We had Honus, Pie, Kiner, and the Lumber Company. We hosted the best brothers to play the game (the Waners). Which was the better outfield: Clemente, Virdon, and Stargell, or Clemente, Oliver, and Stargell? Or maybe it was Bonds, Van Slyke, and Bonilla? We still own the greatest home run: Maz’s “shot heard ’round the world” in 1960.
It all offers little solace now. But maybe, just maybe, we’ll have a winning season again — sometime.
– Paul Kengor, a professor of political science at Grove City College, is the author of The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism.
WHY I LOVE THE ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
I’m a Cardinals fan because my mom raised me that way, just as her parents did — even though we lived 1,887 miles away in California. Because of that pitchers’ duel at Chavez Ravine in the early 1980s, which taught me the game’s subtleties. Because of Ozzie Smith and his backflips and Golden Gloves. Because Jack Buck taught me the philosophy of baseball and how it trumps politics, color, and class. Because Stan Musial once hit five home runs in a single day. Because you never feel like you’re at an away game due to the large Cardinals diaspora. Because, on the other hand, I was pictured in the Detroit News after Game 1 of the 2006 World Series dancing ecstatically in a sea of dejected Tigers fans. Because we have Pujols. Because I’m proud to pass the tradition on to my toddler, who already has her own Cardinals gear.
– Mollie Ziegler Hemingway writes for GetReligion.org.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
WHY I LOVE THE ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Well, it’s not love. More like an enjoyable relationship of convenience. For some years I’d admired her from across the room. Young, sultry, successful — I mean, compared to my own aged missus, who, truth to tell, has become increasingly unlovable, even flabby. As a northern Indiana boy, I got hitched to Old Lady Cubs before the age of reason, but of course there’s no going back. We’ll never split up, but like so many moderns, the Cubs and I are now in a long-distance relationship. Propinquity has brought me a mistress, the fresh and lovely Miss Arizona. Our first date is April 6, and afterwards I expect we’ll often keep company on warm Sonora evenings. The roof will be open to the dry desert night, the sun will set behind the White Tank Mountains, and we’ll watch her promising, mostly homegrown squad provide some much-needed civic and psychic glue in this Valley of Migrants. And hey, not only is the mistress comparatively low maintenance — she has a total payroll about one-third as large as that of my Chicago spouse — from a historical perspective, there’s infinitely more reason for optimism. For an affair, I’ll take it.
WHY I LOVE THE COLORADO ROCKIES
If you love baseball, it’s easy to love the Colorado Rockies, even though it’s even money that they’ll break your heart. It’s baseball the way we believe it once was, and can still be. Players little noted outside of Colorado. Just guys, not brands. No celebrities here, thanks all the same. Guys with names that sound like they work for a living: Tulowitzki, Barmes, Spillbourghs, Street. They go to work at a fan’s ballpark, nestled in a neighborhood. On an afternoon, you can knock off work at lunchtime, walk down to the ballpark and you sip your beer and eat your hot dog and wipe the mustard off the scorecard. And let your Blackberry buzz. Just baseball, played by good men with heart and guts and skill, with the added attraction of a panorama of snowcapped mountains over the left-field fence.
The boys might break my heart, or we might have a repeat of Rocktober 2007. Either way, if I don’t email you back on an afternoon when the Rox are in town, I’m probably at 20th and Blake. My summer home.
– Sean Duffy is a principal at the Kenney Group, a public-relations and political consulting firm in Denver.
WHY I LOVE THE LOS ANGELES DODGERS
In 1981, a portly Mexican rookie named Fernando Valenzuela started pitching for the Dodgers. In game after game, he would get into tight jams and then, like Houdini, he would escape using his left-handed delivery and wicked screwball. Miraculously, he won his first eight decisions, becoming an instant phenom and going on to win Rookie of the Year, the Cy Young, and a World Series ring.
My dad and I listened to every Dodgers game on our AM radio that season. We got to know all the players thanks to announcers Vin Scully and Ross Porter. Steve Garvey, with arms like Popeye’s, Ron Cey, nicknamed “the Penguin,” and slugger Pedro Guerrero were regular guests in our family room. To this day, I can still hear Vin Scully describing a “lazy can of corn to left field.” He taught me about baseball, and he made me love the Dodgers.
– David Nott is president of the Reason Foundation.
WHY I LOVE THE SAN DIEGO PADRES
The first padre in San Diego was Franciscan missionary Junipero Serra. In 1769, he founded Mission San Diego de Alcala, the first European settlement in California. Exactly two centuries later, in 1969, the San Diego Padres played their inaugural major-league season. It’s easy to love this young franchise. The roster has included names such as Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Rickey Henderson, and Trevor Hoffman. Yet the moniker “Mr. Padre” belongs to Tony Gwynn, the hitting great who spent his entire 20-year career with our team.
Looking ahead, we Padres fans are optimistic the team will exceed its 2008 last-place finish in the NL West. In San Diego, more than anywhere else in America, one can hardly be blamed for such “blue-sky” thinking.
– Michael Hirshman, a senior at UC-San Diego, is the founder and former editor of The Triton, a student publication.
WHY I LOVE THE SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
The San Francisco Giants don’t have the star-crossed reputation of the Red Sox of old or the Cubs of today, but the team has yet to deliver a championship since relocating from New York 51 years ago. Could this be the year? Blind hope springs eternal by the Bay.
My experience with baseball started in Canada. On Fridays, my uncle took me to the games of the Vancouver Mounties, a now-defunct farm team for several major-league squads. I remember loving doubleheaders and the seventh-inning stretch.
I never would’ve imagined that I’d end up in San Francisco, making the short trip from my office to the most beautiful park in baseball. In this famously liberal city, the game transcends ideological lines. As we look out over the diamond and McCovey Cove, we are all Giants fans first.
– Sally C. Pipes is president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute.