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(Dave Kettering/Telegraph Herald via AP, File)

And now, for your reading enjoyment, a momentary diversion from all that is wrong with the world. (Because…there’s so much…)

It’s Opening Day for Major League Baseball and, as a red-blooded American who was raised on a love of the game — and of the St. Louis Cardinals, in particular — I’m excited. Far more excited than I was this time last year, when everything was shutting down and the possibility of there even being a baseball season was far from certain.  (Yes, I realize there ultimately was, and I’m glad for that — but it wasn’t the same and it felt…weird.)

My Cardinals are starting off the season away (at Cincinnati), and the day is chilly, albeit sunny (at least here in St. Louis), so it doesn’t necessarily feel like baseball’s in the air here just yet. BUT…I donned my long-sleeved STL Cards hoody/shirt and my Cardinals socks and my swanky new Cardinals bracelet and earrings and I am looking forward to listening to the game on the radio this afternoon while I (theoretically) work.

I say I was raised on a love of the game — my folks were both serious sports fans. Loved football (particularly of the MIZZOU variety, variable successes, notwithstanding), college hoops, and, more than anything else, Cardinals baseball. I can’t remember a time as a kid during baseball season when the radio (or TV) wasn’t tuned to the game. As long as I am on this earth, I will always hear Jack Buck’s voice in my head. And Mike Shannon’s. But mostly Buck’s.

There’s a comfort in that — like the whirring sound of the furnace blower in my folks’ house at night that lulled us to sleep. Long before I understood or truly came to appreciate the game, listening to Buck call the game was, at times riveting, but always reassuring. Whether the Cards were winning or losing, all seemed right with the world when baseball was on.

There’s no doubt my Dad loved the game, but the true sports fanatic in our house was (and is) my Mom.  As I wrote on the occasion of her 80th birthday:

When I tell other people about my love of sports – football and baseball in particular – I can’t help but smile at all the times we’d have a game on the TV and I’d know what was happening by how loud Mom was yelling at it.

(I may have picked up that yelling trait.) And I’m fairly certain she developed her love of the game at the feet of her grandfather, (“Pa”). My love for the game is thoroughly ingrained and I know I’m not alone in that. Witness such baseball masterpieces as “The Natural,” “Bull Durham,” “Major League” (I keed, I keed), and “Field of Dreams.”

In any event, as we prepare for the first pitches to be thrown out today, I thought it might be a fine time to share some of my favorite “Field of Dreams” quotes with you, dear readers:

The bitter-sweetest:

Archie Graham: We just don’t recognize life’s most significant moments while they’re happening. Back then I thought, “Well, there’ll be other days”. I didn’t realize that that was the only day.

The deepest:

Terence Mann: Ray, people will come Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won’t mind if you look around, you’ll say. It’s only $20 per person. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.

And, my personal favorite for its succinct sweetness:

Shoeless Joe Jackson:
Is this heaven?

Ray Kinsella:
No, it’s Iowa.

(Personal aside — my grandfather was named Joe Jackson — no relation, but one reason the story of “Shoeless Joe” has always struck a chord with me.)

It’s time, folks.  Play ball!