Okay, so we’re roughly ten days out, but twelve has a much nicer ring to it. Cowabunga dude… Opening Day is fast approaching. This weekend will be the final one for baseball in Arizona. Beginning the middle of next week, teams will be filtering out and making their way home to prepare for the start of the regular season. Next weekend will be a hodgpodge of exhibition games and then the magic happens. The magic that is Opening Day. I’ve always said I’m not big on party holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween, New Year’s Eve et cetera. My stance is, who needs an excuse to party? If I wanna get drunk with a bunch of people in green, I’ll go to an A’s game – waaay better than St. Patty’s. Nah, I’m more for the laid back, family holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving. You know, the ones that actually mean something. In that fashion, I’m hereby declaring Major League Baseball Opening Day an official holiday for myself. I’m going to ask for work off that day. I don’t see why not. If I were Jewish I’d ask for Rosh Hashanah off. If I were Christian I’d ask for Easter off. But I’m don’t take any religious holidays, so why can’t I take Opening Day? If I were to rank specific days of the year based on their importance and the amount I look forward to them, I’m willing to bet MLB Opening Day makes the top 10, maybe even the top 5.
It wasn’t always the most, wonderful time of the year. Baseball and I had a huge falling out that lasted the greater part of the 90s. Neither of us could really tell you what it was. I just wasn’t interested in baseball anymore, and baseball wasn’t interested in piquing mine. The irony of it all is that logic would say I wasn’t a fan of the steroid era. I’m always a fan of the smaller, faster guys, so it would make sense that I lost interest as guys started to beef up. But, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest otherwise. I was a big fan of the speedy Ray Lankford, for instance, and suddenly, rather than swiping 40 bags a year, he’s jacking 30 homers a year instead. I still rooted for him. Then of course there was the Summer of 98: McGwire and Sosa. I won’t go into detail because we were all there. I think it brought a lot of us back, whether or not we want to admit it. There was something about one particular game late down the stretch of that season that resonated with me through to this day. I wanna say it was the game McGwire hit #62, but after my Adam Morrison memory debacle, I’d say it very well could’ve been #61, or #70, or even #65 or 66. The point is – and it was a day game, this I remember – there came a moment as McGwire’s monumental home run sailed over the fence in the clear blue St. Louis sunshine, where it all came back to me. All the possibilities that baseball presents, where anything can happen on any given day, any given at-bat, and any given pitch. The NBA can claim it all they want, but Baseball is really where amazing happens. And Opening Day is the most wide open day of them all. A fan in Kansas City can look at the standings and see their team in first place, or Skip Schumacher can lead the big leagues in home runs for a day. What am I wishing for this year? That, on the first day of baseball, Roy Steele says to me, “in to pitch the ninth, Andrew Bailey.”