When they begin the Beisbol

The line, which has become fairly immortal, comes from that deep thinker, Mr. Eliot. That would be the poet, Thomas Stearns, better known merely as “T.S.,” not the old Braves third baseman, Bob, who was rather more fancifully called “Mr. Team” and actually spelled his name -- not as they do at Oxford -- but the downtown way, with two t’s and two l’s.

Anyway, good olde T.S. once observed in ‘‘The Waste Land:’’ “April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land.” That would seem to suggest that Tommy could not have been a baseball fan. Although on the other hand, he also noted in that very same epic poem, “I read much of the night and go south in the winter.” Sounds to me like a perfect description of baseball’s truest fanatics. Moreover, there’s never been a better reason to go south than to feast on the Grapefruit League.

Now it’s again come and gone; that glorious and nearly two month farce known as “spring training,” which is played among the grapefruits in Florida and the cactus in Arizona and which lasts probably a month longer than it needs to but who would have it otherwise. It’s another April and another Show. Neither cruel nor cuddly, April is rather the grand illusion of the months. For it begins with every baseball team in first place.

But who will be in first place come November? Ah, now that is the Question, as another notable poet was fond of asking.

Long ago this space waived any claims to prophecy and it’s the one and only vow that’s been consistently kept. I have no bloody idea who’ll have survived the gauntlet come November, which is the month Herman Melville nominated as the cruelest. Much clearer is how many teams will not be still upright. Half of them start the season with no chance and a quarter should be effectively eliminated by Mothers’ Day. Only this much is for sure. Come November, there will be 29 teams that totally agree with Herman Melville.

Disdaining the predictions, which are invariably dumb, there’s lots to wonder about and hope for or eagerly anticipate as well as fear and maybe even loathe. Once classically termed, by Jim Brosnan, “The Long Season,” it is now more of an interminable odyssey over parched badlands pocked with quicksand and alligators. The possibilities are endless. So, inevitably, will be the surprises.

Among this looming baseball season’s better sub-plots are, it seems to me:

The Mets’ mess. The most widely scorned of the under-achievers, they may totally implode this season making the decline and fall of the once so promising Omar Minaya complete. Wall Street scoundrel Bernie Madoff, who numbers the Mets’ owners among his more illustrious pigeons, may have buried this franchise. It’s more proof Baseball no longer exists in a bubble.

The Dodgers’ mess. Those wild and crazy McCourt kids, Frank and Jamie, continue to wage a divorce battle that would make the Hatfields and McCoys blush. Meanwhile, their most prized toy -- the Dodgers -- made one off-season acquisition. A utility infielder. Does Joe Torre have a breaking point? We’ll find out when Manny Ramirez mails it in again this season.

The sequel to the “Joe Mauer is too good to be true” story. When the Yankees give Mark Teixeira $180 million it’s a gruesome case of a runaway capitalist pig capitulating to a greedy mercenary. When the Twins give Joe Mauer $180 million it’s the tender tale of a beloved small market franchise showering Johnny Appleseed with rose petals. If you totally buy this reasoning you must still be grooving on Shirley Temple movies. You’ll pardon me, if I don’t get it.

The curse of the pre-season favorite. It’s an enduring bromide sub-titled, ‘‘Pennants are not won in January.’’ This year’s ripest contender is the Seattle Mariners, everybody’s super-trendy pick until Cliff Lee began the season on the disabled list just as the realization was dawning that most of their power will have to come from 41 year old DH Junior Griffey. Here’s some advice you can take to the bank. In the AL West, don’t bet against Mike Scioscia’s Angels.

Then again if Baseball also has a waste land, it must be Chicago. Not since Prohibition’s high times has there been greater promise of pyrotechnics. The legendarily short-fused Lou Piniella may be a short losing streak shy of wits’ end as he faces the fact that the Cubs under his watch will not win their first championship since Teddy Roosevelt’s second administration. Another season’s daily dose of Alfonso Soriano could even cost Lou his sanity. Meanwhile across town, the even more volatile Ozzie Guillen sent a message to his White Sox by firing his own son. How would you like to be a baseball writer in that toddling town?

Will the Washington Nationals ever get serious? Not as long as they can convince themselves Stephen Strasburg isn’t ready to be a starter on that dreadful team. They farmed the phenom out merely to defer for a year his date with arbitration. It’s nonsense like this that makes you a fan of agents.

Can the Orioles and Blue Jays return to eminence in the AL East? This is a guess, not a prediction. “No!”

Are the Phillies the next baseball dynasty? “Ditto!”

Will the Tigers’ Dontrelle Willis be the best of the comeback stories? You should root for that. Willis is a great lad. Is the Braves’ Jason Heyward the second coming of Ozark Ike? If not, there are no baseball experts left.

Will Brian Cashman prove to have outwitted himself? Here’s a scenario you might dream for. It’s mid-August and the Tigers are in first place thanks mainly to an aroused offense that features Johnny Damon as the lineup’s lynchpin. Damon is hitting .300 and aiming for a season with more than 20 homers, 20 stolen bases, 30 doubles and 100 runs. Whereas in the Bronx, the Yankees’ struggle to stay out of third place bears on thanks mainly to an under-achieving offense that finds Randy Winn hitting .230, Nick Swisher leading the league in whiffs, Nick Johnson leading in D.P.’s, and Curtis Granderson still unable to hit lefties. It’s hardly out of the question.

Mr. Cashman’s nightmare continues: Damon was not the only choice role-player the Yanks’ G.M. purged in pursuit of his amazing, technicolored, balanced budget. Also run off were Jerry Hairston, Jose Molina, Xavier Nady and the most estimable Hideki Matsui. If Southern California’s warm, soft breezes are kinder to Hideki- San’s arthritic knees might he hit near as many homers as Mr. Teixeira? Maybe it’s less likely but it’s still worth yearning for.

None of which means the Red Sox will romp. What if David Ortiz is finished? What if J.D. Drew again has only 68 ribbies? What if Adrian Beltre again hits only eight homers? What if a disenchanted Mike Lowell anchors (literally) the bench all season? What if Mike Cameron begins to look 37? What if the catching begins to diminish the value of the pitching? What if pitching for a contract doesn’t agree with Josh Beckett? What if Jonathan Papelbon’s eccentricities deepen? What if Tim Wakefield begins to look 44? Granted these are the doubts of a noted skeptic. But you have to admit there are more ‘‘what if’s’’ than usual.

Might we again have a season free of drug scandal? In St. Louis, Mark McGwire is a daily presence testifying to the sorrow of the matter. In New York, A-Rod is hob-nobbing with the FBI. In Texas, Manager Ron Washington must prove he’s not a coke-head. And somewhere out there an investigative reporter is just aching to reveal a list with almost a hundred names of alleged drug-cheats on it. All things considered, the odds are not promising.

Nonetheless, let the lilacs breed out of the dead land and “Play Ball!”

World
Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Nation
Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Nation
Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Nation
Stanford University to remove saint's name from some properties

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- California's Stanford University will strip the name of 18th-century Franciscan friar, St. Junipero Serra, from some of its properties ...

Nation
Catholic Charities distributes disaster relief to areas hit by Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- The Carolinas were hard hit with record rainfall and flooding rivers from tropical storm Florence since it made landfall Sept. ...

Nation
Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

World
Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

World
Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

World
Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Nation
Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

World
Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Nation
Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

World
Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

World
What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

World
Vatican publishes list of synod participants, including papal nominees

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To the list of members of the Synod of Bishops elected by national bishops' conferences, Pope Francis added cardinals from 14 countries, ...

Nation
Addicts and their loved ones talk about life with opioid addiction

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- It was a Saturday night, and Billy was eating pizza and watching a sporting event in the basement bedroom of his residence, a ...

Nation
Signers of letter hope Vatican meeting will bring needed steps on crisis

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Signers of an open letter from Catholic women to Pope Francis urging "truth" and "transparency" on the growing sex abuse crisis expressed ...

Local
Community 'overwhelmed and shell-shocked' after gas explosions, says pastor

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

World
Down to earth: Vatican brings together world's meteorite curators

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) -- Rocks, mineral debris and even dust from space are kept in special collections, museums and laboratories all over the ...

World
Algerian martyrs to be beatified in Algeria Dec. 8

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The beatification of 19 martyrs of Algeria, including the seven Trappist monks of Tibhirine, will be celebrated Dec. 8 in Oran, ...

Nation
'Anything but a picnic' - Cardinal Dolan on the Church's summer of scandal

New York City, N.Y., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Cardinal Timothy Dolan has spoken about how the extended sexual abuse scandals facing the Church have taken a ...

Local
Restoring and reimagining: Transformation at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross

BOSTON -- Considered by many to be the heart of the Archdiocese of Boston, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross is the largest Catholic church in New England, ...

Local
Archdiocese says Cardinal O'Malley will personally review all abuse letters

BRAINTREE (CAN) -- The Archdiocese of Boston has announced changes to the way it will process and respond to letters addressed to Cardinal Séan P. ...

Local
CM receives $2.5M grant from Yawkey Foundations

West Roxbury -- Catholic Memorial, a college-preparatory school for boys in grades 7 to 12, announced Sept. 5 that they have received a $2.5 million grant ...

Local
Father Christian Ohazulume removed from ministry

BRAINTREE -- The Archdiocese announced on Sept. 11 that it had removed a priest from ministry after receiving an allegation that he sexually abused a ...

Local
From Cardinal Seán's blog

This week I am in transit to Rome in anticipation of the next meeting of the C9 Council of Cardinals. So, I have asked Vivian Soper to share some reflections ...

Nation
Kavanaugh's birth control comments spur controversy -- What did he say?

Washington D.C. (CNA) -- Opponents of Judge Brett Kavanaugh have suggested that a reference to birth control pills as "abortion-inducing drugs" during ...

Nation
Missouri to enforce abortion regulations in wake of appeals court ruling

Jefferson City, Mo. (CNA) -- Missouri's health department announced Monday that it will immediately being enforcing state laws regulating abortion clinics ...

Nation
Book tells about behind-the-scenes search for St. Peter's bones

HOUSTON (CNS) -- Two Houston men shared a journey through centuries of history and a decades-long archaeological dig under the Vatican to unveil a story ...

World
Update way priests are chosen, accompanied, pope tells new bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The best way to help the Catholic Church, Pope Francis told new bishops, is not by pointing fingers and creating scapegoats, but ...

World
Vatican confirms ongoing Sistine Chapel Choir finance inquiry

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican confirmed an ongoing investigation into financial irregularities involving the directors of the Sistine Chapel Choir. ...

World
After meeting pope, cardinal says he's hopeful about addressing crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston struck a determinedly hopeful tone after his long-awaited meeting with Pope Francis ...

Nation
DA clears Indiana bishop of misconduct, says claim has harmed prelate

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (CNS) -- The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend welcomed findings by a Pennsylvania district attorney that cleared Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades ...

World
Cardinal DiNardo calls meeting with pope lengthy, fruitful

Vatican City, Sep 13, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Cardinal Daniel DiNardo has called a Sept. 13 meeting between Pope Francis and leaders from the Church in United ...

Nation
What do Church abuse policies mean by 'vulnerable adult?'

Denver, Colo., Sep 12, 2018 CNA.- A Vatican summit this February will gather the presidents of bishops’ conferences from around the world. While ...

World
'Elitist, clericalist' church allows abuse to thrive, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Sexual and physical abuse by priests and religious and the scandal of its cover-up by church authorities thrive in countries where ...

World
Cardinal Wuerl to ask pope to accept his resignation

Washington D.C., Sep 12, 2018 CNA.- An archdiocesan spokesman has confirmed that Cardinal Donald Wuerl will soon ask Pope Francis to accept his resignation ...

Nation
Pope accepts resignation of West Virginia bishop as inquiry into abuse claims launched

Vatican City, Sep 13, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Pope Francis Thursday accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield from the pastoral government ...

World
Leaked German report shows 3,700 cases of abuse of minors in 68 years

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A 350-page document leaked to German media and published Sept. 12 documents nearly 3,700 cases of alleged sexual abuse of minors by ...

World
Pope accepts resignation of Brazilian bishop arrested for embezzlement

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignation of a Brazilian bishop who was arrested and charged with embezzling thousands of dollars in ...

World
Love breaks chains of slavery to sin, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Only true love for God and neighbor can destroy the chains of greed, lust, anger and envy that enslave humankind, Pope Francis said. ...

Nation
Washington cardinal to meet with pope to discuss resignation

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington has told the priests of the archdiocese that he will meet soon with Pope Francis to request ...

World
Pope to convene world meeting on abuse prevention with bishops' leaders

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis is calling the presidents of every Catholic bishops' conference in the world to Rome Feb. 21-24 to discuss the prevention ...

Nation
Supreme Court petition next step in effort to stop natural gas pipeline

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A Pennsylvania religious congregation planned to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether their religious freedom rights ...