Sunday, March 30, 2014

Opening Day Thoughts and Links

Tonight's game between the Padres and Dodgers marks the official opening of the major league baseball season, although it will not have really begun in my mind until tomorrow's full slate of games.  Of all days of the year, opening day is one of my favorites, as it is one of the few days of the year that this old grouch allows himself a little optimism.  It is the day that your team, not matter how awful, has hope, with 162 games of possibility stretched out across the six sunniest months of the year.  There is even the occasional opening day miracle that can give an especially woeful faithful a jolt of that old time religion.  I still remember opening day in 1994, when unheralded Cubs outfielder smacked three home runs off of the mighty Dwight Gooden, giving long-suffering Cubs fans a memory to cherish for years.  (Rhodes didn't make it that far in the bigs, but went on to be a great slugger in Japan.)

As I get older I find myself more and more attached to baseball.  During the season, it is my daily companion, something I can go to for distraction and even meditation.  From April to October, I know that it's always there for me.  With each passing year I cherish such daily, reliable pleasures over the more volatile thrills of youth that I have outgrown.  I am also perhaps more stirred by the game's deep connection to my boyhood, a time that's been rekindled in my memory now that I have children of my own to play catch with in the back yard.  On opening day baseball has come back, and there will be more baseball to come than on any other day of the year.  That's something worth getting happy over, in my book.

Here are some relevant links for your opening day enjoyment:

Tuffy Rhodes' Three Opening Day Homers
I mentioned these above, and it is doubly nice to hear the calls by Harry Caray.

"Meet the Mets"
Now that I've moved to New Jersey I have adopted the Mets as my second team, after the White Sox.  One thing I like about the Mets, as opposed to the Yankees, is that they have an atmosphere of fun and human frailty about them, rather than the ridiculously self-important tone exuded by the Yankees.  The Mets' bouncy theme song, written to drum up support for the team when it came on the scene in 1962, sums up the Mets' spirit well.

Hank Aaron Hits Number 714
I've seen footage for years of Hank Aaron hitting his 715th home run to pass Babe Ruth, but it seems fitting that he hit number 714 on opening day.

Roger Angell on Hideki Matsui's Return to Yankee Stadium
There's perhaps no better writer on baseball than Roger Angell, and his 2010 description of Hideki Matsui's return to Yankee Stadium on opening day is a real gem.

Doug Glanville on Fear
Doug Glanville is one of the few former players to also be a fine writer of the game.  In this piece he talks about being a rookie, and hearing from a veteran that even he still had the butterflies on opening day.  I still get the same feeling the night before the first day of school.

1 comment:

Matt J. said...

Thanks for this. My sports world has changed a bit, and includes more NBA and NFL (a little ashamed to admit that one) than it used to when I was a kid, but there is nothing that conjures the same feelings as baseball's opening day. You've made a lovely, and apt, comparison to the first day of school. Some nervousness, so much promise, and, always, the feeling of renewal and the chance to improve (especially for my beloved Cubs, bless their hearts).