Over the Top: Ode to Opening Day
On Saturday evening I sat with some friends discussing the merits of running as an athletic event. Was running an actual sport or just exercising? As the discussion continued, I lost interest, and as I tend to do, began thinking about baseball. You can make your argument about what constitutes a game, because really, they are all games, but there is only one sport: baseball.
Every summer, countless hours are spent taking in spectacular moments of pure athletic accomplishment. It is a game that has no clock, waits for no one. It’s old, inefficient, and slow. But this arrogance, devotion to purpose, and execution is what makes it the greatest sport ever. The intricacies of the game that make it superior cannot be quantified.
<Boswellian alert> Throughout the summer, baseball fans are spoiled in a pure state of sporting ecstasy. Living in this Elysium through beautifully long days and warm inviting nights, we wade slowly. When our fair mistress leaves us in the fall, we shuffle into the darkest time of the year. Through those four months, we act as beasts: consuming, hibernating, hiding, trying to do anything to get through the misery of winter. Like any other lovelorn man, we long for our goddess; waiting patiently for her return.
But unlike any other lost love, she returns in the spring with arms wide open, in time to give us new hope. To enable us to wash away the pale, bourbon-soaked itchy wool sweater that is winter. It is the greatest elixir known to man: tastier than any cold beer, sweeter than any woman, more loyal than, well, just about anything.
Football games are different; when a monumental moment occurs, it resembles utter chaos. In baseball, the greatest achievements are seamless and effortless. Its fans are the strong, silent types: calculating, cold and intelligent.
Between fans, there are heated arguments about whose club is better. There are disagreements, but sometimes there are also jokes. Baseball fans, no matter from Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, wherever… They may loathe each other with a passion, but there is an unspoken sense of respect among them all.
I come home from a long day of work. As I unwind, for some reason, I begin to assess my life. I think about when I was 18 and all of my plans for this age: richer, stronger, healthier, and more successful. I’d drive a nicer car living in a different city, completely on top of my game. My mind begins the slippery slope into full-on moping. I slide onto the hot couch, sweating. At my zenith of frustration, I reach for the remote control. I turn on the television, it’s Comcast Sportsnet, Baltimore against Tampa. I don’t care for either team, but it’s the bottom of the 6th and Brian Roberts has two men on, a 3-1 count, 2 outs, with his team down by 2 runs. I hear Buck Martinez relay this information to me in his unmistakable tone. I slowly become engrossed. I begin to exit the real world.
Baseball is back – And not a moment too soon. Happy Opening Day.
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