Baseball is a funny thing.
In 2006, as I was beginning my ascent (descent?) to quasi-insanity and regularly watching Angels games with pixelated 320x240 Slingbox feeds, baseball was the thread that tied together my day. With the eastern time zone moving afternoon games to the evening and evening games well into the night, was able to watch most games without constant distraction from real obligations. Subsequent years of mechanical engineering courses, a new found need to sleep more than 5 hours a night, and waning interest in a 162 game schedule shifted me out of tune with the dynamic baseball landscape. While there were certainly moments of intense focus, my overall baseball awareness dropped in favor of other interests, inside the sports world and otherwise.
As the Giants lifted the Commissioner's Trophy in November, I found myself asking whether I was still, in earnest, a baseball fan. Certainly, I never expected to sustain the level of involvement I had while in college, but I only watched the first and last games of the Series, and only portions thereof, with the end of the regular season a blur of late-season call ups and boredom.
My musings seemed valid as I leaned heavily on the Kings for my competitive sports intake. With half the games and twice the pressure, hockey was an effective substitute for the relative parity and slog of major league baseball. When the Angels acquired Vernon Wells, simultaneously worsening and aging the team while increasing payroll, my interest reached an all-time low. If the front office couldn't even figure out player valuation, why should I care about the team? The Angels traded away their second-or third-best offensive player in Mike Napoli for millions of dollars of bad contract and a mediocre, possibly bad, former center fielder.
Yet, as the offseason progressed, I found myself oddly interested. Every day, I'd find myself checking the MLB sections of various websites, logging in to my usual baseball blogs, and contemplating the 2011 roster. Perhaps the Angels would improve despite their miserable offseason. Maybe Vernon Wells might play to the level of his contract. Mike Scioscia might begin to consider a more flexible bullpen roation. Texas wasn't actually good last year, so why should they be good this year?
Baseball. It's coming back. Hope springs eternal.