Now is as good a time as any to begin talking about the 2008 baseball season.
Most college baseball teams quietly opened their seasons the week of Feb. 22 - muffled, in part, by the media circus surrounding the once-beloved Roger Clemens and the steroid-related hearings on Capitol Hill.
Clemens, no doubt, is responsible for most of that circus with his incessant outspokenness against allegations that he took steroids or human growth hormones sometime late in his career.
It is not Clemens' perceived innocence or guilt that concerns me. It is, however, his reaction to the allegations that bring me pause as to why I admired him in my youth.
He has left a bad taste in my mouth, at least, that I would like to rinse away with a smattering of pure, unconcerned baseball.
I am a baseball fan, and I suppose I will be a baseball fan no matter what controversies plague major league baseball.
I mean, I would have so many other, near-equally entertaining levels of the sport to choose from: the minor leagues, college, high school, little league, and even tee balll.
I am an Atlanta Braves fan from way back. (Thank you TBS Network and Ted Turner for making the "professional" game more accessible to us lower Alabamians and north Floridians.)
As your average fan, I am as (or more so) optimistic as I have been in years about the upcoming season. With the disappointment of the last two seasons and the more inspiring 2005 and 2003 seasons of late, I am hoping this season will be one for the record books.
You have some former Braves returning that fans may agree or disagree with having back. And some young players are returning as well, with a handful of young arms to juxtapose with the ageless few returning to the mound.
Even though controversy abounds inthe major leagues, at least, I think, Atlanta fans can take some pride in this year's Braves squad. That is, at least, until our team falls a dozen below first place in the division, which ain't happening.
Johnny Jackson is the education reporter for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (770) 957-9161.