What do you think of when you think of Opening Day?
Players lining up on the foul lines for introductions, bunting (no, not playing small-ball), a painted logo on the grass, maybe a fighter jet flyover?
The first meaningful baseball game since November, hot dogs and peanuts in the stands, Old Style?
Maybe the thing that sticks out the most about Opening Day is the hope. The hope that six months from now, your favorite team will be in the playoffs with a chance to win the World Series. I really think that the phrase “hope springs eternal” was meant for baseball season (Wikipedia tells us that the phrase originated from a 1733 poem). It applies ridiculously well, because at this time of year, everyone is tied for first.
All of this is all well and good, and the pageantry is nice and all, but it’s overrated. Think about it. It’s just one game. One game out of 162.
I know I get caught up in the excitement, but I shouldn’t. It’s just one game. The baseball season is just as long as the other major sports, but they play so many more games that it feels so much longer.
People put way too much stock into the first game of the year. Should the Cubs win, Chicago will be saying “This is our year!”
Wait, we say that every year.
Should the Cubs lose, you’d think the sky is falling over Wrigley Field.
Even the players admit that there’s more excitement over Opening Day. I completely understand that. It’s the first meaningful game in a long time for them. But the sooner they get over the first game jitters, the better. I’d bet most players don’t even like Opening Day because it takes away from the routine of the baseball season. I can’t blame them.
Baseball players are creatures of habit, probably moreso than any other pro athletes. They DON’T like their routines upset.
Each Opening Day game has a playoff-like atmosphere to it, and that’s OK, I suppose. A lot of people will be emotionally drained after game one because of it. Guess what sports fans? You’ve got 161 more.
I know what I’m going to do today. I’m going to put my feet up, crack an Old Style, and just enjoy the game. I’m really happy that baseball is back, and I’m going to relish it. I’ll tell myself now that I won’t get too excited if the Cubs win, and I won’t be too depressed if they lose.
I’m not making any promises about that though.