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A time for all seasons and a time for signs of spring

April 01, 2007|By JOEL HUFFER

My son came home from preschool the other day with the following assignment: The next time you come to class, bring with you a sign of spring.

This prompted some discussion with me and his older brother, a first-grader who had some suggestions of his own.

"You could take some flowers," the 7-year-old said. "Or birds, they're a sign of spring."

I wasn't quite sure how I would have managed to get a bird into his classroom if that suggestion had been considered a good one. Luckily, my 4-year-old had an idea of his own.

"I could take a baseball," he said.

Ah, yes. Baseball.

Nothing says spring like the crack of a bat and the smack of a ball against a leather glove.

Tomorrow is opening day for Major League Baseball. At 13 stadiums across the country, the smell of popcorn will be in the air, and the sticky mixture of spilled beer and soda will be under fans' feet.

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Across the Tri-State area, boys and girls are filling the fields of local youth leagues each night preparing for the opening of their seasons.

Area high school and college teams have been playing for several weeks, and the Hagerstown Suns will begin their first season as an affiliate of the Washington Nationals on Thursday at home against the Hickory (N.C.) Crawdads.

If you're a fan of America's pastime, there certainly is no shortage of opportunities to catch a few innings somewhere.

You say baseball doesn't interest you?

No problem.

The coming week offers two more sporting events that make it, in my opinion, the best seven days for sports in the entire year.

Tomorrow night is the championship game of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. The game is the culmination of a three-week, 64-game odyssey that interrupted soap operas and sitcoms.

You might want to watch the game because one of the remaining teams is your favorite, or you might still have a chance to win the office pool. (If you were smart enough to realize that the ACC had a down year and did not advance anyone but North Carolina past the second round, chances are you're in the hunt.)

Either way, one team will celebrate its "shining moment" in Atlanta, where it will be able to lay claim to being the best of more than 300 men's basketball teams in NCAA Division I.

Still not satisfied?

On Thursday, professional golf's showcase event kicks off about 150 miles across the state of Georgia in Augusta.

The Masters bills itself as having "a tradition unlike any other," and I can't argue.

For me, watching golf on television is about as exciting as watching paint dry. But there's just something magical about the four days at Augusta National Golf Club, where intriguing stories are commonplace.

Will the best player yet to win a major championship deliver on these hallowed greens? Will Tiger Woods win again and move closer to Jack Nicklaus' record six victories? Will someone turn in a final round like Nick Faldo did in 1996, when he made up six strokes in the final round to defeat Greg Norman?

It's certainly enough to keep me interested.

Even if I am exhausted from all of those hours of watching baseball.




Joel Huffer is managing editor of The Morning Herald. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7587, or by e-mail at joelh@herald-mail.com.


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