Don’t take me out to the ballgame

Spring has sprung, or at least done its best to show its face amid the odd snowshower.
One of the sure signs of spring and impending summer for the rest of the continent is Major League Baseball kicking off another glorious season earlier this week.
Well, let’s hold the onions on glorious for just a second.
Many of baseball’s diehard fans are readying to defend this season with “It’s a new year, a fresh start” or “We’re on the brink of a renaissance period in baseball, just like that 1998 season when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa captured our hearts with their home run race.”
But reality for the casual fan says the monotony known as the 163-game season will cease to become interesting by early June, perhaps pick up a bit of steam as we all try to remember what a “magic number” is in September, and then fizzle after the wildcard playoff round.
Oh, by the way, McGwire is retired and Sosa still plays for the Cubs—so all he’s good for is the odd hamstring injury, that double kiss thing he does with his heart, and a catfight with Barry Bonds.
In that order.
I must admit the last two World Series proved to be intriguing, if not entertaining. But if it took a rivalry between fans in a city (New York) most of us can’t relate to one year, and a massive terrorist attack to draw interest the next, you know you’re hurting for viewers.
So the casual fan has to go outside the spectrum of the championship series to find interest in the game—who will flirt with batting .400 the longest, how many teams will Rickey Henderson and Jose Canseco play for by season’s end, can the Expos crack the 70-win mark (or at least the 2,000 fans per game mark?)
One of the teams that may generate interest both on and off the field are the Texas Rangers. Not only do they sport the newest edition of the Bash (for cash) Brothers in Juan Gonzalez and Alex Rodriguez, but they have the most promise to churn out their share of off-field headlines, including Ruben Riviera (player who got cut from the Yankees for stealing Derek Jeter’s gear to sell to merchandise dealers), Carl “I’ll just yell at my coach whenever I want to” Everett, and John Rocker (no backgrounder necessary here, folks).
So break out the glove oil and lace up those cleats. You’re better off playing a few innings than watching it on TV—at least until the Yankees win another title.
• • •
A meeting to solidify the return of a local ‘AA’ Midget hockey team was not held in late March as originally planned but the new date will be known by the end of this week, according to team organizer Dave Egan.
But Egan did say Kenora, Dry-den, and Sioux Lookout will be forming squads of their own to bolster competition in this area—which was one of the concerns of the Fort Frances Minor Hockey As-sociation board when the idea was first proposed earlier this winter.
There already are six ‘AA’ Midget teams in Thunder Bay.
“With these teams plus some in Manitoba, they’ll be plenty of competition,” Egan enthused.
• • •
Still with minor hockey, the FFMHA will hold its annual meeting April 17 at 7 p.m. in the ’52 Canadians Arena lobby. The meeting will include an election of officers.
• • •
Devlin’s Jamie Davis, captain of the local ‘AA’ Bantam rep team, has been invited to compete at the annual Prospects tournament with the “Boys of the North” squad April 12-14 in Toronto.
The Prospects tournament features players born in 1986 on 36 all-star teams and is attended by Ontario Hockey League and college scouts.
• • •
Local angler Jeff Steinke graced the cover of last month’s Ontario Out of Doors magazine. He was March’s feature as a “Muskie Master” of Rainy Lake.
Steinke, who also is an outdoors columnist, held a seminar on muskie fishing during the annual Richard’s Rod and Reel Service Tackle Show last weekend at La Place Rendez-Vous.
• • •
It’ll go down to the wire for the Milwaukee Admirals. Coached by Fort Frances native Dave Allison, the Admirals (29-34-10-4) are on the verge of missing the American Hockey League playoffs.
They currently sit five points behind the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks for the 10th and final playoff spot, with both teams having only three games left in the regular season, beginning tonight.
The Admirals are one of six teams from the now-defunct International Hockey League that moved to the AHL last spring.
• • •
Fort Frances native Rustyn Dolyny finished his first pro season with the Muskegon Fury fourth among United Hockey League rookie scorers with 55 points (30 goals/25 assists) in 70 games.
The former Michigan State captain will get his first taste of pro playoff hockey tonight when his second-seeded Fury face the Missouri River Otters in Game 1 of their best-of-five Western Conference semi-final.
If you are planning any upcoming sporting events or have any sports-related information, feel free to call me at 274-5373 or drop by the Times office.
You also can e-mail me at rvillagracia@fortfrances.com

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