Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are still very much formidable. But neither heads into Indian Wells as one of the best two players in the world.
It's always a harbinger of hope, sure. But in this year's mixed-up, locked-out sports world, baseball's Opening Day is something else, too. It's shelter from the storm.
While the Yankees returned to glory by winning the World Series, the inevitability of full-scale instant replay in baseball stood out as perhaps the most important aspect of the 2009 postseason.
The Yankees are still in command, but this World Series suddenly has a different feel as it swings to New York for Game 6 on Wednesday night.
Pedro Martinez might not make it with the Phillies, but one thing is certain: His comeback in Philadelphia won't be boring.