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April 9 - Get Em' Next Year

Butterflies dance frantically in your stomach on your way to the stadium.  You wait anxiously in
anticipation for the subway doors to open so you can step out into baseball heaven.  You take the
long way to your seats making sure to pass by the ageless program peddler who you swear has
been selling programs since Ty Cobb's era.  Any other day the stench of peanuts and spilt beer that
swarms you would be enough to make you nauseated, but not today.  Today it brings an amiable
smile to your face.  You walk up the passageway to your seats and see the breathtaking green grass
and perfectly stenciled chalk lines for the first time in six months.  A lone goose bump appears
somewhere on your body followed by an unstoppable rebel force of goose bumps conquering the
rest of your body.  A tear drops into your nine-dollar beer.  You are finally back home.  Its opening day.  

Opening day brings hope for a new season, a chance for redemption and an opportunity to forget
about the past.  "This year will be different," you tell your friends as you tighten up your new 2007
jersey to protect yourself from the crisp late winter air.  "This is our year."   Anything can happen in the
world of baseball and this season may just be the season your team wins it all.  

Lost in the excitement of a new season is the dark side of the beginning and what many fans see
only in  their nightmares.  Unfortunately if you are a Brewers, Nationals, Pirates, Devil Rays or Royals
fan you will never be able to mutter the words "This is our year," without using the Lord's name in vain
or multiple obscenities.  This was the first weekend of the 2007 baseball season and this may be the
last chance for the fans of these teams to get the Major League experience.  Stadiums are still full,
the beer kegs are still serving fresh ale, and many fans have yet to come off the Opening Day high to
come to the painstakingly horrid realization that their teams would be better off not taking the field at
all.  They literally have no chance to win it all before a single pitch is thrown.  

The Milwaukee Brewers have had season after season go by with just as much disappointment as
the season before.  2007 will be no different for these far from lovable losers of the Midwest.  It has
been 25 years since Milwaukee has found themselves in the post-season.   The twenty-fifth
anniversary usually means silver, but as a Brewers fan you may be only lucky enough to score a
souvenir pin or an extra bratwurst at Miller Park for your twenty-five years of agony.   Las Vegas has
the Brewers as a 50 to 1 shot to win the World series in 2007 and I would say that's generous.  

The Washington Nationals also bring a 50 to 1 chance of winning the series to RFK stadium this
spring.  They are still new to the  D.C. area so fans haven't had to endure many  painful losing
seasons; yet.  They will however endure a losing season this year.  Phenom Ryan Zimmerman
enters his sophomore season as one of the most prolific young stars but that will be one of the few
bright spots for the offensively deprived Nationals.     

Pittsburgh is one of the oldest franchises in all of baseball and is rich with history and victorious
memories.  Unfortunately that hasn't been the case recently.  Fans haven't seen a winning record
from their beloved Bucs since 1992 and 2007 won't fare any different.   Ian Snell seems to be the real
deal on the mound and Jason Bay has emerged as one of the top players in the National League.  
However without much offense accompanying him in the lineup and a proven starting pitching
rotation, the Pirates will find themselves once again below .500 for the 16th consecutive season.   
Vegas also seems to feel confident about that and slated the Pirates as a 75 to 1 shot for World
Series glory.

Tampa Bay has taken a different approach when it comes to managing their team.  They seem to
deliberately set fan expectations very low.  Since their introduction to the league in 1998 they have
never had a winning season nor have they ever put an opening day lineup on the field that stood a
fighting chance.  In 2007 fans will have the same low expectations and endure another season of
losing.  Tampa Bay does have exciting young players who should put up good offensive numbers in
Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli  and phenom Delmon Young; but again we are left pondering the
question: Tell me again why Major League Baseball gave Tampa Bay a franchise?  Las Vegas isn't
waiting around for an answer and picked the Rays as a 100 to 1 shot in 2007.

Despite the painful and dreary seasons the other teams' fans had to suffer through, no fans have
suffered more than those of the Royals in recent years.  The past three years Kansas City has
finished a combined 80 games behind the division leader.  Las Vegas picked the Royals as a 100 to
1 shot to win it all and that seems a bit low in my opinion.   I'd say 1000 to 1 would be more
appropriate.

What does the future hold for these teams?  Can they really continue to survive year after year of early
season disappointment?  Maybe Major League Baseball can adopt England's Premiership where the
bottom feeders in each division get sent down to the lower division and the best teams in the lower
division move up.  That way Kansas City's Double-A affiliate, the Wichita Wranglers, can give it a go
and leave Mike Sweeney to play out the rest of his days in the hot summer nights of Wichita.  
    
The reality is these cities are all small market cities.  They don't have the luxury of paying massive
salaries in order to get great players.  However there are other small market teams such as
Minnesota, Oakland and Florida that manage to put winning teams on the field.  Could it be that these
owners are just simply not committed to winning?  Are they fine losing as long as they are making
money?  No one knows for sure how these owners can accept losing so easily without any action
taken. However, for fans in these cities, football training camp can not come soon enough.