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Baseball entering a cute era?

Jacoby EllsburyAlready feeling the let down that comes post-opening day when you realize that there are still about 100 days until any of these games begin to matter? Few early-season story lines have emerged. The transitions of Joe Torre and Joe Girardi have been uneventful; no historical records are in imminent danger of being broken, and Bonds and Clemens are drifting from the headlines now that they are more likely to appear in court than on a ball field. All this means there is room to discuss more interesting matters, such as: Is it just me or is baseball getting cuter?

Baseball players, for all the lip service given to how good they look in those pants, are not always a sure thing if you're looking for home runs in the looks department. They are overdressed, especially for a summer sport, and tend to adopt unseemly habits such as chewing, spitting and growing unwieldy facial hair. The average major league pitcher is no longer someone you would confuse with an athlete if you saw him on the street. But lately, the minor leagues have yielded some diamonds in the rough. To the list of "players to watch while nothing better is happening," which must include the likes of David Wright, Grady Sizemore, Joe Mauer, and Huston Street, you can add newcomer Jacoby Ellsbury, who you certainly noticed if you watched much baseball in the latter half of 2007. profiles the speedy Red Sox outfielder in exhaustive detail, and offers "10 Things You Didn't Know About Jacoby Ellsbury," including pictures, notes about his love life, what he eats and how he spends his salary. They even acknowledge why fans like us just might think Ellsbury is so exciting to watch:

Teeny-bopper girls, women of all ages, and gay men love his looks, a mix of boyish cute and rugged ethnic.

I can't believe they grouped us with the teeny-boppers! Anyway, I hope the steroid era in baseball is over and has given way to a new era that can once again inspire the nation: a fitter, cleaner shaven era of cuteness. --Ryan Quinn