Monday, March 24, 2008

Hey Great! It's Opening.... ehh

Little Johnny doesn't need to fake an illness this year for Opening Day. He just needs a touch of insomnia.

Baseball Almanac describes Opening Day in the following way
"Regardless of the outcome, Opening Day still remains as the number one date in the hearts, minds (and on the calendars) of baseball fans everywhere. The official countdown begins after the last pitch of the World Series when we can't wait to hear those two magic words again, "Play Ball!"
And far be it from me to suggest that the expansion of the game into foreign markets isn't a good thing (it is, right?), but couldn't they wait for a midseason game between maybe the Mariners and Angels or something? What in the hell are the Red Sox doing in Japan in March and what in the hell is Japan doing hosting Opening Day?

Now I'm no Baseball traditionalist or some old balls who yearns for the days of higher mounds, no DH and Polo Grounds, but there are some things about Baseball that set it apart from the other sports. Opening Day is one of those things. Opening Day is Spring. It's really the only sport that corresponds directly with a season (sure they're called the "Boys of Summer" but Baseball signifies Spring and warmth while football is played in 6 weeks of veritable scorching heat). Opening Day is not just another day on the calendar or another Baseball game, it's a borderline national holiday. And while the real ESPN "Opening Day" is Sunday Night (according to the promo ads I've seen), the game Tuesday morning between the A's and Red Sox is billed as the MLB's "Opening Day" for all intents and purposes; and it's being held in another country (and that country is not even Canada!). It would be like holding the Iditarod in New Zealand (not really) or Pamplona moving the Running of The Bulls to Newark. It's one of the biggest events of the Baseball season and we've just handed it to another continent. It's a little anticlimactic for the sport if not borderline sacrilege. There's very little buzz for the start of the season outside of the Red Sox lunatic fringe (I'll be up at 6am) and that's not good for the game. I guess more than anything I just don't get the need for something like this. I'm all for giving other countries some of the games (you can give Europe ALL the Orioles - Royals games), but Opening Day? For me, some things are truly sacred. And if you think I'm being too sentimental, check out this Opening Day Song (created in 2005) and see if you don't get sentimental too:
"It never fails to amaze me
that cut grass can smell so good
I can't believe that someone pays me
for shagging flies and swinging wood
I close my eyes and smell the leather,
the Copenhagen and Ben Gay
I hear the rookies making chatter
God, I love those old cliches
On Opening Day

I nursed a hamstring down in cactus
I gained a pound and lost a step
But when I take my batting practice
The fans know the deal's kept
The guy in the chicken get-up
He's gonna be worn out by May
But today he doesn't let up
Like me he came to play
On Opening Day
It's Opening Day

The papers say that the odds are long
for us to be a first division team
The polls have us starting off strong
but running out of steam
We don't need no fortune tellers
and we don't need no crystal ball
We've got some big propellers
with arms taking us into Fall
And last season's dugout trances
are someone else's memory
Today's the day for second chances
There's no such thing as history
On Opening Day
It's Opening Day
On Opening Day
It's Opening Day"

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