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Play ball! As the Orioles season opens today, it's a chance to reflect on why we love baseball. Some of my reasons:

1. Perfect combination of team concept and focus on individual performance. Imagine standing in at the plate with 50,000 people watching.

2. The sport that gave us baseball caps.

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3. Plenty of time to read between innings.

4. The smell of a new glove.

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5. More better books.

Among my favorites are Koufax by Jane Leavy, Late Innings (and anything else) by Roger Angell, The Universal Baseball Association by Robert Coover, Babe by Robert Creamer and Moneyball by Michael Lewis. Also: John Updike's magazine piece "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu," and "The Visitors Lineup," a chapter from Philip Roth's The Great American Novel.

Each season brings a dugout full of new books. Among the promising titles include Yogi Berra: Eternal Yankee by Allen Barra (I know, I can't stand the Yankees either, but he was before my time), The Corporal Was a Pitcher by Ira Berkow and The Complete Game by Ron Darling (former N.Y. Met, yes!).

Tell us why you love baseball. One lucky winner will get a new book.

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