It’s not merely a coincidence that the bloom of flowers and greening of grass overlaps with the upstart of our game across the country. Baseball has a way of providing life to people and cities across the world. But what is so magical about this fabled Opening Day? Let me start by saying that it’s not even one specific day. To many, Opening Day is the start of the MLB season, but to others it can also be the “herding of cats” version of the first day of t-ball, or just two old friends playing catch again.
As a kid I could not wait for this time of the year. (I’m sure my parents would be willing to vouch for that too.) I would track spring training games intently. If someone was pushing for a roster spot, I knew about it. If the roster invitee had 6 HR’s in spring, I would learn his: hometown, eye color, and mother’s maiden name. I was — err.. still am — a geek when it comes to this kind of stuff. The problem with being this in-tune with my team was that I never really got an opportunity to just sit back and be hopeful. That is, except for Opening Day.
Tick, tick, tick.
My friends and I had created a culture with our dads that whenever the Royals home opener was, we would go to the game. Now if I had to guess it was as much the dad’s desire to go as ours, but nonetheless we still take the credit for it. However they would always insist that we attend school for the first half of the day before pulling us out early. I use to think this was some sort of before-the-fact consequence for the impending indulgences. It was effective. If you’ve ever stared at a clock from 8:05 until 11:00, you know my perpetual pain.
I was a good student in school. But not on this day. In fact it was the one day out of the year when I was an absolutely lousy student. It’s not that I didn’t care, it’s just that I cared so much more about the game. Can you blame me? The stats I had studied so hard from the previous season were wiped clean. The standings I dreadfully analyzed had reset. The field was going to look (and more importantly) smell brand new. And, the big one for me, the stadium I had so often frequented the season before was going to be full and rocking. The tinge of hope was in the air and none of the “10 Tips to an Engaging Lesson Plan” were going to capture my attention on this day. And sure enough, one-by-one the handful of us going would be picked from our classrooms like captains picking kickball teams. And if you were the last one waiting, it felt twice as long as the previous three hours.
Bzzzt.. Can you send Tyler down to the office, his dad is here to pick him up.
Yes. Yes! oOh hell yes!! Literal adrenaline would rush through my body when I’d finally be called down. No offense to any of my past teachers here, but when I’d walk through those halls it felt comparable to an inmate being paroled. Once we made it to the stadium everything felt right. We’d settle in for what many would believe to be just another baseball game, but to us it meant so much more. It was the beginning of summer time. It was the beginning of baseball.
So here we are. Stats, standings, fields, and stadiums all set. The grass is green, and the life of baseball is back. And while the exact occurrences of the season are impossible to forecast, we do know a few things. We know that the allure of a new dynasty has every Northside fan salivating. We know that the stories of the ’69 Mets and ’87 Twins are ringing through the heads of every reigning cellar dweller. And we know that there will be memories from the 2017 season that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. Let’s have a wonderful season and I hope you all enjoy the ride.
And here’s to all of you getting called down to the office over the next few days!