Yes, it is the title from the first Star Wars film (the real first film…). It is appropriately used here.
Wedged between the start of the season, which is today, and the end of the last one is a shining affirmation of not just hope, but of expectation. For the first time, fans of this franchise can start to expect and can begin looking up. Well, the first time since that fateful first day back in ’93.
The Marlins have a stadium on the docket. Sure, it won’t materialize until 2011, but the road there begins here: with a young roster with loads of talent and upside. Just don’t expect all of it will be retained when we do this again in 2011 in a new stadium.
Think about that for a second: for the first time in years, Marlin fans can look at today and expect a continuation next season. Gone are the talks of contraction, the threats of relocation and that is as refreshing as the sunny weather we take for granted down here.
Let baseball be as our weather, let us take it for granted that it will return to us each and every year. Let us rejoice in this national ritual that is baseball, when everyone emerges from their homes to see the sun shining and feel hope for a brighter future.
So it is with this team. They have been able to walk the path and avert disaster. This team has emerged, today, in front of a home crowd with renewed expectation for this season and the future. It will not be without its growing pains, however.
Expect that talents like Chris Volstad and Cameron Maybin might not be called up immediately despite being ready to play on this team. They only lack experience and seasoning, which they can get here with the big club. The only reason they won’t is because the Marlins will want to keep them on the roster come 2011 – they can control their contracts to that point via arbitration. It will be limited based on their years of service and arbitration.
The Marlins also will be looking to build on the momentum they closed last season with taking 2 of 3 from the Mets. In the midst of their playoff chase, the Mets came to Miami expecting to regroup against a 69-90 Marlins team. Yet this young team, never backing down, fought and took 2 crucial wins from the desperate Mets who had choked away their 7 game lead to fall short of the playoffs.
It starts today with Mark Hendrickson and Johan Santana squaring off. It starts today with a man throwing out the first pitch who was there to see the first pitch ever for this franchise at the start of his career: Jeff Conine. It was the start of his career and of this franchise. Conine has retired, officially as a Marlin as of Friday, but the franchise is still here.
Let hope be renewed. And let’s play ball!