Isn’t it great when baseball season starts? It finally feels like the long, cold winter is beginning to thaw when pitchers and catchers report; and by the time the 30 teams take the field for the first games of the year, I feel a profound jubilance that reinvigorates me like nothing else in the world.

That’s what makes this time of the year so difficult — school is in full swing and I’m working all week so I can’t follow America’s national pastime in the way I feel it deserves. This is the absolute cream of the season, especially this year when the wild card races are so close.

As it stands now, Tampa Bay, Boston and Los Angeles are neck and neck for the American League wildcard while Atlanta and St. Louis are at the top of the heap in the National League race. San Francisco, who won the Fall Classic last year, is four games out with an anemic offense and little hope. So it goes.

In addition to the wild card races, September means prospects are starting to get called up to the show for their first cup of coffee. Let’s start with Jesus Montero of the New York Yankees — the 21-year-old is batting a cool .313/.389/.542, however it’s only across 48 at-bats. Most every prospect maven in the game claims he’s one of the top hitting prospects in the minors, so Yankees fans should be overjoyed to see him perform at this level in the show.

One problem to consider with Montero is that his defense is atrocious. He plays catcher about as well as Jorge Posada plays it now, which means he could very well be left off the playoff roster in favor of Austin Romine, another prospect with less offensive prowess but a better glove.

Another player to get the call-up this year is the Italian Alex Liddi. He’s the first player born and raised in Italy and was signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Seattle Mariners. While his rise through the minor leagues has not been as meteoric as a Stephen Strasburg’s, Seattle must be thankful to have him in the lineup as he provides a power bat — he’s racked up 47 homeruns since the start of the 2010 season, two of which were in the big leagues in September. Definitely keep your eye on him next year, especially if you play fantasy and you want a cheap power-hitting third baseman.

Detroit walked away with the American League Central title weeks ago, but that didn’t stop them from calling up 20-year-old top-prospect Jacob Turner. Though his immediate statistics are underwhelming at best — 0-1 with an 8.53 ERA in three starts — he’s supposed to be the real deal.

Whatever ends up happening, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that someone not much older than your average college student will have a powerful impact on playoff baseball. New memories will be created, and that, I think, is the magic of the Fall Classic.