MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Texas Rangers

Despite what some of the soulless ghouls known to inhabit the press box will tell you, “it’s still early” is a false flag. It is never too early to worry. It is never too early to read the writing on the wall.

After just one game, it isn’t too difficult to see the problems that will rear their ugly head for the rest of the season.

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MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres

No matter how hard Major League Baseball tries to cheapen and devalue Opening Day, it can’t do it. For a sport/industry so adept at making money, its continued effort to turn the annual baseball holiday into a made-for-TV event has mostly failed.

Because despite MLB’s push for growth into foreign shores, Opening Day is today. Not last week in Sydney or last night in San Diego. Those games count in the standings but only today counts in the hearts and minds of baseball fans the world over.

It isn’t really a holiday and it will never receive official designation as such. It’s the business-as-usual aspect that makes Opening Day so appealing. No other sport asks more of its supporters and fans. No other sport demands attention for longer and with more regularity. Other major sports play their games on weekends and in prime time. Baseball combines tradition and utility to play games during the day, during the week. It fights for your love and affection.

On Opening Day, every single year, baseball goes undefeated.

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MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres

People don’t like Brian Wilson. Baseball fans are straight up put off by Brian Wilson’s whole…thing. His shtick or his persona or the cut of his jib; whatever it is, it is unpopular with a large swath of the baseball watching public.

This widespread antipathy towards Brian Wilson thirsts for comeuppance and, in the 8th inning of the lid-lifter in San Diego, got exactly what they wanted.

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Mama, let your boys grow up to be baseball players. Mike Trout on Friday signed a contract that will pay him more than the career earnings of LeBron James. It is half the length and nearly 50 percent higher than Sidney Crosby’s contract.

Mike Trout just walked away from, roughly, $100 million. By signing a contract that buys up his first three years of free agency, he might have left $100 million on the table.

And yet he signed one of the 20 or so biggest contracts in baseball history. A guy with 336 career games played. He’s probably going to be okay.

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MLB: Spring Training-Seattle Mariners at Los Angeles Angels

Whether you’re ready or utterly unprepared, the 2014 baseball season is effectively upon us. Transport trucks are pointed north, loaded down with equipment and no small amount of hope for the upcoming season. Some teams approach the upcoming campaign ready for a six month assault on the playoffs, confident in their assembled talent. Others look up and down their roster and see potential, if not this season than perhaps in the future. The Astros players also look forward to many nights spent in expensive hotels.

There is no predicting baseball or anything else that involves round balls striking round bats. The good teams will win more games than the bad teams. Predictions are for suckers and you won’t get one out of me. Despite the uncertainty (YCPB!) there are some things I believe to be true. Truer than most, anyway. These Things I Believe about the 2014 baseball season.

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NCAA Football: New College Athletes Players Association-Press Conference

Wednesday’s ruling from the National Labor Review Board granting Northwestern University football players the right to form a union as employees may be the biggest sports story of the new Millennium. ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson called it a “a historic first step in a process that, together with litigation against the NCAA and legislation in Congress, could change the face of college sports.” The Nation’s Dave Zirin wrote “the established order in the sports world has been shaken to its foundation.”

If there is an analog to the NLRB decision in baseball history, it comes in 1976, when MLB arbitrator Peter Seitz granted free agent status to pitchers Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally. This was the final blow struck to defeat the reserve clause. The ruling left every major league player yet to sign a contract in 1976 eligible for free agency by the end of the season; those who had signed could be reserved one final time in 1977 before becoming free agents. Essentially, the whole league hit the free market at once, the exact kind of chaotic situation necessary to force real change.

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MLB: Spring Training-Detroit Tigers at St. Louis Cardinals

The game of baseball is so overflowing with cash right now, the owners need to hand some over to the players at some point, right? If you can’t give a record-setting contract to Miguel Cabrera, then who can you pay? If a two-time MVP and former Triple Crown winner isn’t worth the risk, who is?

Isolated case as this might be, there are limits to everything. Even a team and owner as rich as Mike Illitch and the Tigers have their limits. At some point, paying to ensure one of the greatest players in team history never leaves comes at a real cost.

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