Major League Baseball began its regular season on Sunday and the one thing that can be said with certainty is that the hopes of millions of fans will now be slowly crushed over the course of a 162-game season. Some millions, those who root for the Cubs and Mets for example, will once again endure the agony that has come to define their lives as fans of the national pastime; other millions will groan with outrage as managers and owners publicly embarrass themselves by making team-wrecking decisions only they will attempt to justify; still other millions will feel the pain of what might have been had one more strike been thrown, one more catch made, or one more tag eluded; and just as surely as night follows day, at least one team will string its millions of fans along for about five months only to collapse in a September death spiral that will bring out comparisons to the 1969 Cubs or the 2011 Red Sox. The fact is that one relatively small group of players and fans will experience elation about seven months from now at the expense of the wrenching misery of 29 other teams and their faithful. The rest will be left to spend the next four months muttering about nagging injuries, lousy trades, bad calls, blown saves, sophomore jinxes, and all the other excuses fans and teams use to soften the blow of grinding, prolonged failure. The wonder is that each year millions of us who irrationally love the game of baseball will do it all over again, hoping against hope and reason that come the end of October we'll be the ones experiencing the moment of elation which each year is the exclusive province of one champion and one champion's fans.