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SAN FRANCISCO — Baseball is back.

And not a moment too soon.

Has there been a time in recent memory where our country is more in need of a slow roller back to the mound?

In a public swirl of shouting, blaming and shaming, baseball may be the antidote to slow everything down. After all, the majority of the time on the field is spent standing around. And most of the time in the stands is spent sitting, grazing on ballpark snacks and catching up on what Bob has been up to.

Baseball gets all the breaks. It is the harbinger of spring. And as hackneyed as that is, it is undeniable that baseball equals sprouts, blooms and sunny summer days.

I think it also benefits from the length of the season. It goes on and on — spring to summer to fall. And that means little milestones along the way: vacations, graduations and weddings. (Congratulations, Will and Michelle.)

So no wonder that when you go to AT&T Park for the home opener, the ushers say, “Happy New Year.” It seems like a fresh start.

And wow, nobody does the runup to the season like baseball. There are weeks of spring training. The pitchers are ahead of the hitters. Or is it the other way around?

There are worrisome tweaks, mammoth home runs from unexpected sources and the inevitable aging veteran who has arrived at camp “in the best shape of my life.”

By the time they “break camp” — like cowpokes in the desert — and head west, we’ve got the narratives set.

And, whether naive or foolish, they always seem to be optimistic. Even the poorly served A’s overcome their dreary, downer ballpark and spin a tale of young arms and live bats. Hey, the kids might just pull something together.

Across the Bay, it was an odd offseason for the orange and black. The trades for Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen played out in a slow-motion wave of interest and intrigue. Longoria, the American Leaguer, was probably a bit of a mystery to many. He was to me.

I went to his introductory press conference and began to get the picture. The guy was the face of the Tampa franchise and was perfectly comfortable with that. Questions? Happy to answer them. At length.

I saw a radio station program director soon after.

“Are you planning the Evan Longoria Show yet?” I asked.

“Have you heard McCutchen?” he said. “He might be better.”

Ergo, they both make a lot of sense. If they can avoid injury, we will forget that they are over 30.

The Giants have the requisite young hopeful for whom to root, Steven Duggar; an apparently healthy Buster Posey and, for pure entertainment, quirky Johnny Cueto, a personal fave.

Can they make the postseason? Sure, why not? They’re tied for first now.

Meanwhile, I once again resolve to go to more A’s games. Whenever I do, I’m impressed. Not by that miserable mess of a ballpark. Or the amenities. Last year I went up to the snack bar and ordered a hot dog.

“Ran out,” the cashier shrugged.

But one look at the players tells you these are elite athletes. The crowds may be small and the facilities pathetic, but that’s not how they see it. They are Big League ballplayers, taking on the best in the world, and they consider the odds dead even.

BTW, the A’s also bash a lot of home runs if you like that sort of thing — 234 last year.

Matt Olsen hit 24, Matt Joyce banged 25. And Khris Davis hit 33 freakin’ dingers. (Yonder Alonso hit 22 — 20 in the first half of the season — and made the All-Star team, but he left in the inevitable August fire sale. Sigh.)

But still. The Giants only hit 128 over the wall last year, the fewest in professional baseball, and Brandon Belt led the team with 18.

A’s manager Bob Melvin continues to command respect, despite the double crunch from management. He is saddled year after year with a young, and therefore cheap, roster, but then metrics tell him when to change pitchers.

I would say one thing about Melvin that might go unnoticed. He does a good job of bringing along young talent. Maybe because he’s had so much of it. But the Giants, for one, could learn something.

But here’s the point. It won’t matter what ballpark you’re in. Or how your guys did last year. The moment is coming in a very few days, when a pitcher is going to look in, get a sign, and throw the first pitch of the new season.

And players, wherever they are, will get a little dry-mouthed. And fans, wherever we are, will lean in, waiting to see what will happen.

Contact C.W. Nevius at cw.nevius@pressdemocrat.com. Twitter: @cwnevius.

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