Refreshed from a three-week layoff, I began the new year optimistically recalling Roger Angell's explanation of why baseball captures the hearts of so many fans. In no other game, Angell wrote, can we observe the vicissitudes of our favorite players' sporting lives on a daily basis, one hundred and sixty-two times a year in the case of baseball. While our own lives may plod on with little or no perceptible change, the fortunes of our diamond heroes ebb and flow constantly as they hit, or don't, catch or miss or throw strikes and balls. This vicarious sharing of other peoples' ever-changing lives brings pleasure to our [mostly] humdrum existence.
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The local newspapers are filled with stories noting the quarter century mark in this city's championship drought. Little did I know when I took up residence here in 1978-79 that the those championship years of 1980 (the Phillies) and 1983 (the Sixers) were the exceptions rather than the rules. There have been near misses for all four major teams but no cigars. Should the Phillies acquire more pitching, they remain the best bet to break the streak. The Eagles have too many holes to fill. The Flyers are rebuilding and could be contenders in a few seasons if they get more help on defense. The Sixers do not appear on the radar screen at this point.