by Eric Nixon
As a baseball fan, there is truly no more anticipated day each spring than Opening Day. Even after what has been one of the mildest winters on record, the start of the Major League Baseball season officially puts to rest unpleasant memories of snow-covered driveways, slush-filled boots, and whiteout driving conditions for another year. It signals an end to short days, long nights, and perpetually overcast skies. And it offers a preview of sunbaked afternoons in a crowded stadium enjoying the greatest pastime ever created.
Beyond the obvious, Opening Day mirrors life’s greatest opportunities and most optimistic moments. As the day approaches, you can feel a huge emotional lift as you imagine the endless possibilities that a new season brings. Even when you temper that optimism with the most brutally realistic prediction of your team’s chances at success, you cannot help but feel your heart beat faster as the time of the game’s first pitch nears. Will this truly be the year your home team beats all the prognosticator’s negativism, defies all reasonable odds, and goes the distance to win it all in the Fall Classic?
Sure, why not? Absolutely anything is possible in baseball. It is the most joyous, most cruel, most wonderful, most diabolical, most uplifting, and most depressing sport that mankind has yet devised. It taunts and teases and tempts and traumatizes. It builds players and fans up in one short moment – then rips their hearts out in the next. It turns goats into heroes overnight – and then returns them to goatoriety 24 hours later. And it does it for six straight months in the most grueling sports marathon imaginable.
For non-baseball fans, the lure of baseball remains a mystery. They say its time has passed. That the world has moved on and that baseball is a remnant of bygone days. That playing a sport virtually every day for 162 straight games is a public relations disaster in today’s fast-paced, sound bite world. That having a handful of clubs make the playoffs – when virtually every other sport rewards almost half their teams with post-season berths – makes no economic sense. That the game is too slow. Too statistical. Too complicated. Too arcane.
And they’re absolutely right on all counts. And they’ll never understand why all of the above means absolutely nothing to a true baseball fan. It is a sport that you will never fully understand or appreciate. It is a kids’ game played by overpaid, grown men who have never totally forgotten what it’s like to be a kid. It is an endurance test that embraces the best qualities we all strive to emulate: determination, humility, hard work, and non-stop learning.
Forget the billion dollar ownerships and the high salaries and the overpaid announcers and the overinflated egos. Strip away the shiny façade and, beneath it all, you’ll discover that the real, honest-to-goodness, sandlot-inspired game still exists. And it’s just waiting to suck you into its addictive vortex for another six long months. Why resist the urge? Let yourself be swept away and savour every great moment.
It all starts now – on Opening Day, truly the most wonderful day of the year. Play ball!