Warts and All, Baseball's Opening Day is Still Awesome
It doesn't matter how old I get, there's still a certain feeling which hits me on Major League Baseball's Opening Day.
You can joke about it all you want---the day is different.
Maybe it is just the fact it is what I consider Spring's premiere event, the official start if you will or maybe it's just because I like to wax nostalgic.
And even though the way MLB has started their season has changed over the years---dramatically, it still holds a certain appeal.
As a kid, the season started usually with a Cincinnati Reds game. For reasons the Reds fans will gladly explain to you---they feel as though the game began with them and history would not totally dispute this.
Every year---even today, the Cincinnati faithful line the downtown streets and watch their Opening Day Parade.
The event closes businesses and schools and is celebrated all day long throughout the city. Having spent two baseball seasons living their, I can tell you from first hand experience, it's pretty impressive.
Over the years, as a kid, it often meant Spring Break. If I was home, I watched, it didn't matter who was playing. The fresh diagonally cut grass, bright green on the TV. Wind usually blowing, particularly up north as Winter still hadn't totally given up its hold and Spring was beginning to shine through.
For me, it always meant checking to see who was on the Atlanta Braves roster, this being a time before they really were good, it often meant a long, lengthy list of guys I had to read up on.
As I got older, Opening Day often fell on a Monday. I often worked weekends as a young TV Photojournalist which meant Monday would be a day off. And a day to celebrate.
Celebrating often took the form of a drink...or two. My favorite story was back in the early 1990's, when I worked in Jacksonville, Florida.
We decided over the weekend, we'd start by toasting the season with a beer on the first pitch of the first game and go until we could go no longer.
The day began on a not cool, but not warm, breezy Monday morning in the Baymeadows area of Jacksonville. Curt and I parked ourselves at a nearby sports bar and raised a glass to the Reds as they started the season at then Riverfront Stadium, Great American Ballpark having not yet been built.
Curt was Curt Menefee (yes, that guy). We decided we'd park for the day and did. Beers for the 11am game, the 2pm game, the 5pm game. Without getting into details, we made our way down the street a little after the 5pm game and met up with some friends who were gathering to watch the NCAA Championship game.
No, I don't remember too much more than that, other than we consumed a lot of beverage and laughed until we could laugh no more all while watching and celebrating baseball.
Don't get me wrong---I still remember opening day as a Little Leaguer, marching down the street to the ball park and playing games all day long at Pasadena Lakes near Hollywood, Florida. I still remember watching any and every game I could that day until my parents rounded me up and took me to eat.
Maybe that's why Opening Day holds such a place in my heart, it could be the reason.
And maybe it isn't, maybe it's just the love of the game, the change of seasons and appreciating the game for the slow developing game of strategy that it is.
I hated ESPN for multiple reasons over the years, I think maybe their worst offense was hijacking Opening Day by having a "Sunday Night" game or a Special Game for them only on a different day.
This year its back to normal with a full, day long slate of games.
The only difference in 2019, that day is on a Thursday---and I'll be at work....