I was going to post this yesterday before the game, but we had so much going on, I thought it was better to wait until the off day.

Every year, I like to use Opening Day as an occasion to relate baseball back to life. This year, I’ve been thinking about this: Imagine the Reds scuffle a bit this year, finish with 85 wins and miss the playoffs. Disappointing, right? But not catastrophic. Especially for a team that figures to be good for several years. We’d forget about this year in a hurry.

Now, imagine 85 wins in 2004. The Reds were coming off a 69 win season. That would have felt huge, wouldn’t it? We’d all still remember that as a the year of light in a long run of darkness.

Context matters.

Most of us, I think, spend most of our lives sliding right around our personal .500. We go to work. We come home. We spend time with the family. It might be a nice life, but nothing spectacular is really happening. And of course, most of us have our bad runs. The terrible breakup. The time we lost our job. Sometimes those run together and there will be a string of years when it’s hard to figure out why we bother. In that context, a year of going to work and coming home to a normal dinner doesn’t sound like .500. It sounds like the World Series (and really, maybe it is, but I think most of you will see my point).

And then, of course, there’s the reverse. When you know you’ve met the right person. Your wedding. The birth of a child. Graduations. Landing the job you’ve always wanted. Moving to a new and better job. Those are your real pennant years. You remember those forever. And, in the context, those solid years get lost even if, in another time, you’d sell your soul for a solid year. For nothing going wrong.

There are going to be times this year when it won’t seem so great to be a Reds fan. Maybe now is one of those times since Ludwick just got hurt. But if you find yourself getting down about baseball, think about how good right now would have looked ten years ago.

I’ve written before that baseball is about life, and I think it is. Maybe you’ll win your personal pennant this year, and maybe right now you’re dying for just one solid year (a lot of people are). But at least, right now, you can watch a pretty good baseball team. Sometimes that doesn’t feel like much, but sometimes it’s enough to keep you going.