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Wednesday, Feb. 21
The Indiana Daily Student

sports

Column: After other major sports focus off field, baseball focuses on game

With all due and deserved respect to the New York Giants, the recently completed NFL season will probably go down in the history books as Tim Tebow’s coming out party.

By the same token, regardless of whoever wins the NBA title this summer (for the record, my money is on the Thunder), I have a feeling the season will ultimately be remembered for Jeremy Lin’s emergence and the hoopla that has followed.

That is why I could not be happier that baseball season is right around the corner. Spring training has begun, and lo and behold, we are talking about...baseball.

In today’s sports landscape, far too much focus is drawn away from the playing field, and the public obsesses about the person, not the athlete.

This is, of course, a double-edged sword, and in no way am I suggesting that I want to know next to nothing about the athletes I watch.

There is a balance to be had here, a difference between the media obsession with players such as Lin and simple proper features that illuminate what makes athletes distinctive. I blame ESPN and various other media outlets for this skewed coverage.

Nonetheless, it remains a problem and has made this young year in sports seem oddly removed from its roots.

I feel baseball season will change that. Look at this baseball preseason’s compelling storylines.

The game’s best player, Albert Pujols, has changed leagues from the National League to the American League, shifting the balance in both.

Of course, his former team happens to be the defending champion, and therein lies another interesting storyline.

Not once in recent memory can I recall a defending championship team undergoing such a metamorphosis as the St. Louis Cardinals, who lost both its franchise player and future Hall of Fame manager, have this offseason.

And let us not forget its World Series adversary, the Texas Rangers, which added the latest and greatest Japanese baseball import in Yu Darvish.

Even the handful of storylines that threatened to steal focus from the field have thankfully not been overblown by the media.

Credit Josh Hamilton with not letting his alcohol relapse linger into the season.

Even perpetual media hog Manny Ramirez has been in the news recently for restarting his baseball career.

Talk has not centered on his showboating antics, but rather on the midseason impact he could have on his new team in Oakland after a 50-game suspension.

That is what sports talk should be about. Major League Baseball finds itself in a position with just about all the ingredients for a stellar season.

There will be no post-lockout hangover from an abbreviated offseason, and a flurry of transactions has left the championship race wide open.

This looks to be a season simply about baseball in its simplest, purest, most exciting form in a sports year that thus far feels unfulfilling.

Play ball.

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