Random Nostalgia: When There Was One

Happy Opening Day!

Again!

From what I can tell, all 30 Major League Baseball teams are opening the season on a different day. Which is a fantastic idea. Why have 1 super awesome exciting Opening Day when you can have 30 separate Opening Days that most fans know nothing about?

Mariner and A’s fans know the REAL Opening Day took place on March 28th at 3:00 AM PDT. We know, even if no one else does!

Based on all the national baseball writers tweeting about the Marlins’ new stadium, I’m pretty sure the Marlins are beginning their season tonight. More teams are opening tomorrow. By the time the Mariners have their second Opening Day on Friday, I’m going to be so Opening Day’d out I’m worried about generating the requisite Opening Day excitement.

Alas, this is the state of modern baseball. Take something great, break it into significantly less great chunks, and try to sell it for the same price.

Since I’m old now, I’m going to wax nostalgic about the Opening Days of my long-ago youth, when it lasted for one night and one glorious day, when Bug Selig was just the interim commissioner, and when all the players were on steroids.

The good old days.

There was the Opening Night game on Sunday. A single, teasing appetizer. A tiny taste of the bunting and pristine baseball fields that would fill the next day. A little nibble that would keep you up all night with excitement.

When the alarm sounded on Monday morning, the world was different. No matter the weather, it was sunnier. No matter the economic indicators, it was was more optimistic. Life was better. It was baseball season.

Most Opening Days, I had to go to school because the day was not yet declared a national holiday (Seriously, Congress what exactly are you doing all day? Get on this!). The day would be full of clock watching and surreptitious radio checking during class (this was the 90s, no one had iPhones). Finally, finally, the school day would be over.

If the Mariners opened on the road, it was a mad rush home to drink in as much baseball as my eyes could handle before the Mariners started. ESPN and ESPN 2 used to be channels 14 and 15 on tv and all afternoon I flipped back and forth savoring the games, the day’s highlights of strikeouts and home runs, and a scoreboard with a full slate of games.

The Opening Days when the Mariners played at home where the best of all. Especially the Opening Days when they played earlier in the day. Day Opening Day games meant no school. No school meant being able to watch the early games. For a stretch of several years my birthday present from my Dad was tickets to Opening Day and my birthday began 10+ days of burning anticipation.

At the end of the day, whether the Mariners won or lost, I fell into bed and slept the happy sleep of a baseball fan who’s year was beginning.

Opening Day was the familiar, mundane routines of baseball sparked with excitement and optimism, a day long celebration of the most beautiful sport in the world.

Some of the same elements still exist. The stadiums covered in bunting. The excited buzz of the crowds, finally coming out of their winter hibernation. The grass looks greener, the chalk glows whiter, the lights burst brighter. The fireworks, the pomp, the players – they’re all still there.

I just miss the clear excitement and shared happiness of baseball fans everywhere on one special day every year.

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