Every year, people predict the decline of professional baseball. Exorbitant salaries, steroids and now the economy are all reasons for fans to avoid the ballpark. But Opening Day erases all of those fears. Sure, attendance may be slightly down, but even after 11-straight losing seasons, even Oriole fans still get excited.

(Side note No. 1): Jeremy Guthrie will make $650,000 this season. C.C. Sabathia, $23 million. Just saying.)

As two Yankee fans, a Red Sox fan and myself went to a local watering hole to watch the O’s play the Yanks on Opening Day, I was confident that the Birds could win. (Side note No. 2 to Alison Berger: I was drinking Cokes).

‘ Baseball is like that, just take one game at a time and any team can win. Now at 5-2, the Orioles look like a contender. For now at least.

Being stuck in Connecticut, in the midst of Red Sox Nation and Yankee Universe, is tough for any fan of another team. This has been especially true since the Red Sox won two World Series in the past 91 years and yet their fans act like they’ve won 26.

(Side note No. 3: I’m told that Yankee Universe is a cancer charity. But still. Nation? Universe? Unless you’re from those areas, stay out of Camden Yards.)

Even Fairfield baseball fans can pull some hope out of a fast start to the season. The Stags haven’t had a winning record since 2000 when they went 26-20 and last year the team went 14-36 overall. This year, the team is off to a 14-14 start, including 5-4 in the conference.

(Side note No. 4: Of course, last year Fairfield baseball was also off to a fast start at 8-4 in the MAAC. But the Stags went 3-9 to end the season. Still, that was a better finish than the Orioles, who went 6-28 to finish up last year. But hey, let’s keep things positive.)

The Orioles probably won’t make playoffs. The Stags might. Of course, I’m rooting for both teams to make it. And the opening of any season gives any fan optimism, except maybe a Pirates fan. But like Washington Capitals fans, I’m not convinced that they actually exist. (Side note No. 5: This only applies to years other than 1988 and your team starts 0-21 like the Orioles).

Fresh blood energizes any fanbase as it has with the Yankees free agent acquisitions and the Orioles hot prospects. Sophomore Tucker Nathans and freshman Mark Skrapits have helped Fairfield to its record along with some of its veterans performing better than years past.

(Side note No. 6: The Stags are going to have to rely on fresh infusion of talent on the field because it doesn’t look like head coach John Slosar is going anywhere. Twenty-five years as head coach and only three seasons with the team more than three games above .500. Let’s just say George Steinbrenner and Peter Angelos wouldn’t stand for that.)

A team may have a terrible track record and no logical reason for hope. But no matter what, that’s what the beginning of each season brings. Even for Oriole and Stag fans.

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