Baseball is one of those sports that has similarities to a concert. There’s always anticipation, but nothing like that first time. While there are many who love every damn song—even the obscure cover/mashup—and know every damn word and gosh darn, darn nuance…there are others who would rather leave after their favorite song is played (sometimes that can be in the middle of the seventh inning). And yes, perhaps there are some who liked the first two songs and then fell asleep during the rest…until their head landed in some nacho cheese, waking them to roaring laughter and a familiar face on the Jumbotron. Maybe they liked the ending. Maybe it wasn’t down tuning. Maybe he meant to bunt. What. The. Hell? And like music, baseball—with the pickoffs and bubble gum and things cracking and smelling and dirt and seeds and nostalgia—is fun.
One of the reasons is Opening Day.
First, let’s get some personal notes out of the way: I’m not sure when I last wrote on this blog—and I still haven’t seen the newest Star Wars Episode Roman Numeral Something: Harrison and the Search for More Prosthetic Limbs. But the wheels keep spinning, like a slow Macbook. And though I think my mirror is drunk, there is a slight possibility that (I think!) my hair is falling out more quickly than I originally expected—I now see myself as more of a Bill Murray in Kingpin and less as the next torchbearer for the Order of Clooneys. But none of that really matters when we’re talking about baseball, on account of the hats.
Anyway. Baseball is fun, and my thought process here is to prove that fact-based statement over the long-ass season by highlighting certain things—using tweets, videos, videos of tweets, the written word, etc.—and presenting them to my five or so readers (HELLO India, by the way) in the hopes that, yes, you will eventually learn to love the game. In fact, one of these blogs will probably feature For Love of the Game, starring national keepsakes Kelly Preston and Kevin Costner. (You’re welcome.)
Yes, dammit, baseball sure is fun.
Look at the bartering system:
Political Science arguments aside, that type of deal doesn’t happen anywhere, except in the confines of America’s pastime. A man who trades food for a bat, in the real world? Shheeee-it.
But it’s that kind of axis-skewing abnormality that makes Opening Day so special: everything is storybook. You see that pristine ballpark for the first time—even though it’s your 49th—and it takes you back to Ye Olden Days of Youth…
Nine batters faced, eight strikeouts, one sweet mullet, and so on. I’m 178 years old and, every time an Opening Day rolls around and Bob Costas’ head fills my television screen (102-inch screen, Bob. Christ!), I think about that wonderful moment, my first time on the mound—and then I want to eat Dairy Queen.
And speaking food…Opening Day has a fully stocked refrigerator, too, with all the familiar smells: jalapeno peppers mixed with nacho cheese, hot dog buns mixed with garlic fries, mixed with beer, mixed with flat beer on the ground, mixed with ketchup and that, uh, relish, and popcorn, and fresh-cut grass…really, who has time to smell the leather glove?
With that, there is a mix of hope, too. Even if you think (know) your team is awful, there is that slight “Buhhhh…” that keeps you marginally excited for the…hell, I don’t know…the ending of the National Anthem (and the FLYOVER). But that’s music for you…a thesis statement, if you you will, from the beginning of this ramble—and it’s the perfect time to revisit this flyover (my favorite moment of Opening Day) from the 2016 fiesta known as Angles –Cubs aka The Birth of Fowler’s Howlers:
Yes, these are all the wonderful elements of Opening Day. Sure, there are stats and team breakdowns and my opinions on the shunned art and entertainment of the intentional walk. And I understand that I left out spin rates and WAR. I know—but you can find most of that information on Baseball-reference.com. So, go now and watch baseball. Take it in, because baseball is fun…and thus, now well beyond the days of Babe Ruth and elastic waistbands and one Mike “Spanky” LaValliere, I wish you a very happy Opening Day 2018!
Now where’s my comb and bowling ball?