It’s early on the morning of April 4th, 2016. It is a cool and rainy New England morning, the far-from-ideal landscape for the day that marks the beginning of the Major League Baseball season, an occasion better known by its official title: Opening Day. Though some fans may have had their home opener postponed; it is no less a holiday. If you’re not a fan of the game, it may not be easy to understand the zeal of your baseball loving neighbor. Opening Day is a holiday with wide-ranging implications and emotion. A day that celebrates the beginning of a journey.
Baseball season has been compared to reading a saga…a six month long novel with a chapter of the story written and read every game. Unlike the other major American sports, baseball is played nearly every day. From when Spring Training commences in early March to the last out of the World Series in late October, the game of baseball follows you, like a resonating thread that weaves through the tapestry of everyday life.
Sometimes baseball’s nine innings serve as an entertaining distraction after a long day. Other times you catch a few innings on the radio while you’re running errands. Its on at a restaurant where you steal a glance at the score above the bar. The host of your Fourth of July party shows the televised game on mute. Sometimes it’s the only thing on when you’re without anything else to do. Yet whatever the circumstances, baseball is always right there with you.
The plot unfolds over many games and many months, each game slowly revealing a unique piece to the unknown product. With time the characters begin to take shape. You experience their highs, lows; their struggles, their frustrations, and their exuberant triumphs seemingly become ours as well. Occasionally, you’re even rewarded when you experience something historic. A person can watch baseball their entire life and still see something in a game they have never seen before. There are even those rare occasions when one may see something in a game that no one has ever seen, period.
In its own way, baseball is the one sport that plays much in the same fashion people live their own lives; everyday, taking pitch each as they come, one experience at a time. The end goal may be grand but to arrive, ultimately you must do it by putting one foot in front of another, each and every day.
For a baseball fan, Opening Day is a holiday not simply because it is the first game of the regular season, but because it is the beginning of a six month epic. Moreover, it is a story where not even the authors know the outcome.
Opening Day also serves as the beginning of what many Americans consider to be some of the best parts of the year; spring, summer, and early fall. A time where nature is a midst a robust rebirth and we all feel a sense of youth. The time where every team, and every fan start at the same place. A beginning where hope and optimism is fair game for all, 0-0.
At its core, Opening Day is a celebration for all fans, where they feel young again, if only for a day. The great value of its celebration is not found in the first pitch, or even hoping to be the last team standing in October. Instead, it is a salute to the greatest part of human nature: the joy of the journey. A joy that, in fact, encompasses a uniquely profound blend of emotion. The feeling of eternal youth, reverence for a rich history, boundless optimism for the possibility of the future, and the euphoria of beginning the trip.