Opening Day 2014

Waxing lyrical about the pristine joys of "Opening Day" is a bit more of a stretch this year. Technically -- (and if you are a baseball nut is there any other choice) -- we didn't have one; the season having started half a world away nearer the middle of March, after which the Grapefruit and Cactus League seasons, featuring dozens more mindless exhibitions, proceeded another ten days. These are the facts and they are entirely unprecedented and in Baseball what's truly ''entirely unprecedented'' invariably tends to be decidedly bizarre.

It wasn't so long ago that somebody in Congress -- apparently having nothing better to do -- actually proposed that the day of the baseball season's first guttural utterance every year should be made a national holiday, right alongside Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July. That was back when the importance of the occasion was underscored by the entire nation's President and Commander-in-chief tossing out the "first-ball," so-called, even though he always had something better to do.

More to the point, it was also before Bud Selig got his money-grubbing mitts on the game and set about tinkering with it more in a single generation than had been dared since Alexander Cartwright laid down its basic rules and regs not long after the Civil War.

Maybe in terms of the upheaval of Selig's long and tiresome tenure having the season open with the D' Backs meeting the Dodgers in the Outback while all the other teams continue concentrating on their calisthenics back in the sunbelt is fairly minor. However, it does rather trumpet the direction of the season one senses we should expect; one that above all dramatically verifies how much this game has changed since your daddy took you on the trolley to see your first game just after the Great War. The change may have only just begun.

This season is supposed to be Selig's last. Not everyone believes him but he is publicly insisting as he approaches age 80 that it must be his last. Shrewder observers, I have noted, suggest it may be another cute ploy by good old Bud. Their scenario would find the owners having mucho trouble coming up with a worthy successor and especially one -- and this to them is crucial -- who would be a Bud-clone thoroughly dedicated to his policies and priorities and passion for profits; in other words, one of them just like him. If such a paragon cannot be found and with such precise criteria that would be no surprise, these cynics expect Bud would then be begged to stay on and being the good lodge brother he truly is he will acquiesce, however (seemingly) reluctantly.

For sure, that's plausible, but while I lay claim no less cynicism I think it's likely he'd prefer to step down, if possible, having set the game's course much to his liking. He knows what lies ahead will not be easy. There's a lot to do, better left to a younger fellow.

Ultimately, the goal is the Globalization of baseball. It isn't necessary that America's Major League Baseball (MLB) orchestrates that or ultimately administers it if and when global dimensions are achieved. If you are one of the grand old game's contemporary moguls it sure would be desirable. Think how fabulous might the riches up for grabs be, and the power too. Think of the bonanza that franchising the game professionally all over Asia might reap, just for openers.

It is America's game, copyrighted here. So why wouldn't MLB yearn to control it worldwide. That could be tricky. The international soccer and Olympics monoliths are operative models baseball might love to emulate.

Selig has not discussed this with me but I would bet the ranch it is overridingly his thinking and he will certainly want guarantees his successor is of like mind. The fat is already in the fire. Steps and directions lately taken verify as much. The increasing emphasis on international talent; the greatly increased flow of it to MLB; the proposed controlling of it through an international draft all affirm that. World baseball tourneys, the effort to make the game an Olympics event, even such gimmickry as the opening of another season in bloody Australia are all related to this wider scheme; elements of the same grand design. Here in the states it is already an international game. The advancing of all of that stuff in this year of vital transition might be the season's primary sub-plot, even if it seemingly has little to do with what's happening on the old ball field.

That Selig and his MLB cronies seek to control the direction and, indeed, the very destiny of their own game is hard to object to even if some of their motives have little to do with the mere love of said game. Other things they are up to, however, are another matter.

Chief among them being, of course, the grave expansion of television replays over most of the action to regulate, second-guess, and flat-out correct the umpires while ultimately bringing about an influence, even control over every game played that I can guarantee you are not going to like, old Sport. It will be a huge issue this season.

It happened so fast. When limited use of replays to verify homeruns was introduced just a few years ago, we warned you. Proponents, led by Selig, ridiculed such objections. We who worried were Luddites scared of technology, they effectively charged. Some promised the replay tactic would never be extended. They were jiving. It only took a couple of years. It was their intention all along. As is the case with every despot in any dodge, you give the Seligs an inch and they will gobble the entire fortune cookie every time. It has been the fundamental theme of Bud's reign for over 20 years.

Calling the balls and strikes will be next. Eventually they will use lasers. Won't that be fun! They say it will never happen. Baloney! When it does happen, you can say goodbye to the umpires, except those sitting in some studio in Manhattan staring at rows and rows of TV monitors providing camera angles from every game being played. That is the future, chum. You'll love it!

It will be insidious at first, then gather steam. Near unlimited replays will deeply change the game; drastically affecting rhythm, texture, and mood. Baseball can only afford to tinker with so much of its intrinsic magic before it loses that magic. You heard it here first.

There's much to anticipate. On the eve of the season, drug violation penalties are stiffened. Yet some will still take a chance, still get caught. Will we hear nothing this season from A-Rod? One doubts it.

Something of a crisis builds in the pitching dodge where arm injuries swell to epidemic level. Kids opt for Tommy John surgery as if it were just another root-canal. Five young pitchers, all of starry potential, leave spring training for surgery. Why? Baseball-injuries in general have become a mounting perplexity. Yu Darvish and Manny Machado lead the parade to the DL to start the season while in Detroit, Jose Iglesias is gone for the season. Why are today's so much better conditioned and medically serviced players so much more brittle than their predecessors? Is there an answer?

Then there's the issue of money. On the season's eve the Tigers horrify the industry by giving star-slugger Miguel Cabrera a 10-year $300 million deal that seems entirely unnecessary. It's the sort of deal that alters the landscape. The owners shudder.

As ever, there will be much to bicker over from the field too. Can the Red Sox do it again? Already they don't look half as lucky as they were last year. Is the Bronx revival for real? Is the A.L East better than ever? Individual tales will be fetching; Masahiro Tanaka. Yasiel Puig. Mike Trout. Jacoby Ellsbury. Billy Hamilton. Xander Bogaerts. Of this much we can be sure; Derek Jeter's long goodbye will be touching.

But in the end, what you see on the field is not necessarily what you get. You need to keep your eye on the game within the game. It's where the real action is. It may even be more interesting.

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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. ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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. ...

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 ...

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, ...

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 ...

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, ...

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, ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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, ...

'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 ...

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, ...

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. ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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. ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

'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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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. ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...