I'm a baseball fan through and through - particularly a Philadelphia Phillies fan. The National Pastime is a wonderful thing. It brings all kinds of people together. It doesn't matter what your politics are, what religion or philosophy you follow, what your ethnicity is, or what educational level you've achieved. Baseball is the great equalizer. It doesn't even matter (past one's team loyalties) what team you follow. There is a camaraderie between baseball fans. The sport brings us together. Statistics dance in a fan's head like ballerinas, the sights and smells of "the game" bring back memories of laughter with families and friends, disappointment and headache, joy and jubilation, and the fascination of watching that perfect swing, that incredible pitch, that amazing slide, throw, steal, or tag. It's all its glory.

Thoughts abound. To me, baseball also means recalling watching the game with my mom, dad, and brother. And, reveling in the fact that I now experience it with my son. It's a family game, a community game, a national game - and an international game. Fans react to every move, watch the players position themselves strategically for each pitch. And hope that their team wins.

Today the season opens for my beloved Phillies. The same holds true for the team they face - the Pittsburgh Pirates. Visions of days past race in my head. Schmidt and Stargell, Ashburn and Clemente, Roberts and Face, and on and on. Now, every baseball fan's wishes are fresh, filled with hope. Perhaps their team will win the World Series! Maybe, no matter how poorly they did last year...things will come together and they'll catch "lightening in a bottle" and pull off an incredible run to the top.

But for's a new season. The ballparks will be full (as they always are for the Phillies), fans will cheer and/or groan with every pitch, play, or umpire's call. It's here my friends. And, I for one, have been waiting for this day for months. It's time to..."Play Ball!!"