Bright sunshine and a light breeze. The distinct smell of freshly clipped grass mixing with the scent of some nearby freshly grilled hotdogs. The sound of the leather ball making perfect contact with the smooth, wooden bat, followed by the sight of an outfielder making a flawless diving catch. Opening Day 2017 is upon us, and no one is happier about it than me.
Before I continue, I must admit I’m a bit biased toward baseball. I grew up on the game and although I was never good enough to play in high school, I participated in Little and Junior recreational leagues all the way up through my sophomore year. My lifelong interest in the game was enhanced about five years ago when my favorite sports team of all-time, the Baltimore Orioles, finally climbed out of the cellar they were in for nearly two decades and put together a competent squad that regularly competes for the postseason.
Once my O’s returned to prominence, baseball season overtook the watered-down NFL as my absolute favorite sporting season of the year.
With a season as along as the MLB’s, a grueling 162 game marathon, it might be hard for some people to get excited for Opening Day. What difference do a handful of games in April make in a sport whose regular season finishes at the end of September?
In truth, I think my endearment to the Opening Day has just as much to do with what it represents as it does with the game itself. Opening Day coincides with the beginning of spring, and with 30 teams suddenly all on an equal playing field to compete for a championship in a sport as unpredictable as baseball, it’s hard not to feel the sense of rebirth that’s thick in the air. To me, Opening Day is a new beginning, a reason to get excited for a new sport after a busted bracket or, in my case, a dismal season by your favorite NFL team.
The return of baseball also marks the return of a near-constant fix for the rabid sports fan. With 30 teams all playing 162 games, there are competitive games on TV from noon until nearly 2 in the morning every single day. With all of the uncertainty and negative energy making the rounds in the United States today, baseball is a welcome safe haven from the seemingly daily barrage of nonsense that is forced down our throats by the media.
Opening Day is one of the earliest signs that summer is near, and that means soon my nights will be filled with barbeques, beautiful weather and most importantly, baseball.