Today marks the first scheduled Cactus League contest for the Seattle Mariners when they play a charity game against the San Diego Padres at their shared spring training headquarters in Peoria, Ariz.

While the games have yet to start being counted, the fact that the National Pastime is back is cause enough for excitement for fans of the game.

The game. What is it about baseball that makes fans of even the most lackluster teams have eternal hope each year?

I think it is best summed up in this promotional video the Mariners produced in 2008.  While the narrator, the late Hall of Famer Dave Niehaus has since passed, and the footage of Ichiro Suzuki is now outdated, the sentiment is timeless:

"Someone once said, 'You don't grip a baseball. A baseball grips you.'
It fills our days and brightens our nights
over the course of a season and the span of a lifetime.
We share hope, drama and joy.
It brings us all closer together, nine innings at a time.
It's the game we live.  It's the game we love.
Welcome back, baseball.  Welcome back."