Virtual Voices

April means adventure

Sports

It's April, one of the best months of the year. That's because it's adventure season. This week, teams comprised of young and old, big and small, and those from many nations will set out on a quest with a singular goal. After weeks of preparation in Florida and Arizona, major league baseball teams will make their way to their home stadiums to begin the epic journey to win a championship. The baseball season will begin, and it is the greatest adventure in sports.

The greatest adventure stories all have some combination of similar ingredients. There are heroes, villains, plots, plans, failures, successes, victories, and demises. Minor characters make choices and take actions upon which the whole plot turns. Lords and rulers play their fellow characters like marionettes. Our hearts beat faster at the suspense, warm at the rags-to-riches narrative, and plummet at the brutal flops of our favorite characters. And when we come to the end we may be exhausted, satisfied, disappointed, or left hungering for more.

Just like adventure stories full of swashbuckling fighters and dragon slayers, heroism abounds in baseball, whether it's a bottom-of-the-ninth home run, a complete-game shutout, a star player visiting a local children's cancer ward, or a winning team lifting the spirits of a beleaguered city. We are offered all the intrigue and plotting of the men behind the curtains, as general managers smile to each other's faces and rob each other blind at the trade deadline. Every week we'll be able to see instances of bit players being the hinge pins on which their teams turn. Unlikely teams will far surpass all expectations and some that seem powerful will fail famously.

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And I need say nothing more about pure villainy than this: New York Yankees.

As I head into this baseball season, my hopes and emotions hinge on a single team, the Minnesota Twins. But it is the long-road adventure that truly beckons. For the next six months, 2,430 games will be played in 28 different cities, and that grinding, treacherous path leads only to the gates of the great playoff arena in which the final and best baseball is played until a champion is crowned. And it is that road, with all its dramatic and dreary extremes, that I am thrilled to travel.

Like all great adventures, baseball offers lessons in virtue and vice. It sifts the character of its participants and displays their best and worst. Yes, baseball is a game, but when each game is added to the others, a tapestry is woven of stories and lessons that both entertain and teach. Baseball's season is the best sort of adventure.

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