As of 4 PM Monday afternoon, I had officially watched more Red Sox baseball than I had all of last season. And as of this writing (a couple of hours before first pitch of Game #2), I can say I’m actually looking forward to the next game.

Simply put, it feels nice to have a baseball team back again.

Gone is the circus charade of clown manager Bobby Valentine. Gone are the endless excuses provided by the pitching staff (though I still have my reservations regarding Lackey). Gone is the exhibition of disinterest on the part of the players. At least that is how it appears after one game.

Reading too much into one game? That is what the immediate day off following Opening Day is for, of course.

But for now, and hopefully for the remainder of the season, it appears the Red Sox are a real baseball team, more than a marketing strategy, with players that want to play the game, more than complain about Sunday Night Baseball (I’m looking at you, A.Gone), and a management structure that was put into place by members of the front office and baseball operations folks actually working together.

Rookie upstart Jackie Bradley, ever-promising Jose Iglesias, even (second year phenom) Will Middlebrooks – all are welcome fresh faces indeed.

It’s April, and there’s baseball. And hope springs eternal for not only a new season, but a return to a baseball team, and franchise, that is appreciated just for that – for being a baseball team. For now, at least …