April 4, 2012 7 Comments
As with the delving into a brand new and long awaited novel, Major League Baseball’s opening day maintains something of a mystical and oft-grandiose hold on the heart of a baseball fan.
The novel of a new season is but waiting in earnest to be written upon, ready for today’s heroes and tomorrow’s legends to pen their tale and post their claim on historical relevancy. Opening day is where the first line of the first chapter is scribed with the sweat and dirt of digging out grounders and the frustrating hilarity of a pitcher trying to lay down a bunt.
It’s the concluding mark of football season, March Madness, and winter coinciding with the vibrant arrival of spring in all of its glorious opportunity.
It’s the greener grass of outfields and 0-0 records.
It’s finding a balance between statistical advanced metrics and a lucky bounce.
It’s fond remembrances or good riddance’s of those who’ve passed on to rival teams or retirement back into normal life.
It’s the accepted injustice of a blooper falling for a hit and the line-drive being snagged for an out.
It’s the 35 year-old senior citizens of baseball trying to coax their legs into stretching a down-the-line single into a double just a few more times.
It’s the war of a pitcher against a batter, and skilled experience against anxious youth.
It’s Take Me Out to the Ballgame and military jets zooming over the field at a thunderous National Anthem’s perfect crescendo.
It’s the wonderful combination of playing small ball and smashing home runs, of hitting behind the runner and swinging for the lights.
It’s marveling at a once head-bound slider snapping down for a strike as the batter bails out of the way.
It’s the whip-like crack of a wooden Louisville connecting with a 98 mph fastball.
It’s listening to your favorite broadcasters on a radio station that barely comes in.
Opening day is the jumping off point of April’s optimism, July’s realism, and trying to trick the shadow of nagging pessimism into believing that with great trade deadlines comes great re-possibility.
It’s turning two and stealing second.
It’s learning new faces, judging new rosters, and festering new gripes with front office decisions.
It’s the finished product finally being presented from the hot stove.
It’s the first glimpses of the ivy at Wrigley, staring at the beautifully ugly Green Monster at Fenway, and staying up far too late to catch the final innings of a Dodgers game in Chavez Ravine.
It’s seeing a leaping, diving, sprawled out catch and an exaggerated memory reminding you that you once did that very same thing as a kid.
It’s the pure joy of cheering for a winner and the satisfying comeuppance of jeering a loser.
It’s always knowing more than your team’s manager.
It’s seeing the action on the field and heading out the door to imitate it in your back yard.
It’s the tranquil peace of playing catch once again and realizing that, for once, words needn’t be spoken. The smack of the ball in your mitt is serene enough.
Save the Olympics, no other opening sports spectacle can quite top baseball’s opening day. A dozen games on the same day. Watching your team take the field in the bright sunlight or under the beaming spotlights. The thrill of opening day represents a truly American characteristic: that of hope. The hope that this year will be different from last, that long suffering fans will finally find retribution, that the season is long and anything can happen.
It’s a chance to start anew, the shortcomings of the past no longer tugging on the coat tails of the present’s potential. For a fan, the birth of a new baseball season is one of the most enjoyable days of the year.
Happy Opening Day, and go Cubs go!