Ah, the inevitable signs of spring: birds are singing; flowers are blooming; and, all across North America, we welcome back the club-wielding men of Major League Baseball. Batters! Pitchers! Home runs! Overpriced hot dogs! It's a ritual that's steeped in tradition, and the man with the most powerful baseball job in this country - and a guy who loves the sport to its very core - is Alex Anthopolous.
For Canadian baseball fans, the past two decades have been less than kind: After the glory days of the Blue Jays' back-to-back World Series championships in 1992 and 1993, things got pretty bleak: disappointing seasons, empty stadiums, and, the departure of the Montreal Expos, who played their last game in 2004.
Speaking of Montreal, that's where it all started for Mr. Anthopolous: He was born there, he grew up there, and it's where he started his career as an unpaid intern, sorting mail for the Expos. Incredibly, Alex gradually worked his way from the mail room to the boardroom. In 2009, he became general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays - hard to believe, considering he was only 32 years old, younger than a good number of his players.
So, here's the question: after so much baseball-related heartbreak - not to mention the steroid scandals, which disgraced the reputation of individual players, and the game itself - can Alex restore our collective faith in the sport he loves? Plus, with the new-look Blue Jays seeming better than ever, with a lineup that features arguably the best hitter in baseball (Jose Bautista), along with a homegrown Canadian hero (Brett Lawrie), can baseball once again be a source of national pride?