Finally.

Opening Day is upon us, and I couldn’t be more excited. Yeah, I’m pretty excited every year at this time, but this year seems, I dunno, different. The Reds have had nine straight losing seasons; by all rights, we should be dreading the start of another baseball campaign.

This year, however, there seems to be a little hope bouncing around the Nation. I don’t know if that hope is reasonable, if it’s unreasonable, or if it’s just wishful thinking on the part of a fan base that has been beaten down for a decade. Probably a large dose of that wishful thinking, but who cares? It’s April and the weather is warm outside and Opening Day is upon us and I’m excited for some Reds baseball. Deal with it.

We could delve into the stats and the projections and the roster decisions — heaven knows we’ve done plenty of that lately, and Bill and I cover much of it in our soon-to-be-posted Season Preview Extravaganza podcast — but now’s not the time for that. Now’s the time to reflect on why we support this flawed franchise, and why we have so many hopes and dreams invested in a baseball club, of all things.

I’ve been to six or seven Opening Days and they’re all fun. If you haven’t yet, you must do Opening Day in Cincinnati. It’s a celebration of baseball in this fair city, and it’s something that every loyal citizen of the Nation needs to do at least once. Or twice. Or twenty times.

Why do I get excited every year? Because this is the franchise of Barry Larkin and Johnny Bench and Mario Soto. It’s Pete Rose and Frank Robinson and Adam Dunn. Ted Kluszewski. Ernie Lombardi. Joe Morgan. Edd Roush. Vada Pinson. Tony Perez. Eric Davis. World championships and special dynasties. A long, successful, and interesting history.

Equally so, however, it’s the franchise of Paul Householder and Reggie Taylor and Bill Bergen. Corey Patterson. Steve Mesner. Jo-Jo Morrissey. Opening Day starting pitchers like Jimmy Haynes, Mike Remlinger, Bud Podbielan, and Johnny Klippstein.

The point is: this is our team, for better or for worse. The last decade has been one of the worst runs of baseball that Cincinnati has ever seen. Yet here we are, desperate for baseball to start, clinging to the hope that the Reds — our Reds — might be able to cobble together a competitive team once again.

Maybe this is the year. I hope so, and I know all of you feel the same way. Either way, tomorrow afternoon, I get to watch the Cincinnati Reds play baseball.

The world is right again. Go Reds.