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I echo Michael Kress’s post yesterday about giving thanks for baseball’s Opening Day. There truly is something refreshing–if not anti-climactic–about the first day of a 162-game season. Most of the country saw the primetime emotion in New York, but I hope you also got to see the refreshment of spring and the redemption of Easter on display during ESPN’s (and WGN’s) coverage of the Cubs and the Reds. There were three highlights over and above the Reds’ 5-1 win over the Cubs, two of which were on SportsCenter and one which is showing up on YouTube:

1. Mayor Mark Mallory threw out an opening pitch so wild that it almost went in the direction of first base than home plate! The fans were good natured … yes, the season is young.

2. Pete Rose was able to do something he hadn’t done since being banned from baseball for gambling: The all-time hit leader not only attended the game but also appeared on radio and television, all thanks to some lobbying from team owner Bob Castellini. The fans were gracious, and there were few hard questions about betting on baseball.

3. Josh Hamilton, a 25-year-old who has had his share of off-field challenges, was greeted with a standing ovation by the fans (get this!) three times: during pre-game introductions, when he appeared as a pinch-hitter, and when he stayed in the game in left field.

Also, a politician was cheered for ridiculous under-performance, a disgraced ex-player/manager was received and cheered, and a capacity crowd stood and hailed an ex-drug offender who didn’t get a hit or make a catch. Yes, Opening Day is a spiritual thing–and redemption was in the air.

So I join my colleague Michael in wishing you the happiest–and redeeming-iest–of Holy Weeks. May you sense the joy (and grace) this week that made it a special day for for the mayor, for the Hamilton family, and all of us who watched in person or on TV.

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