HERE WE GO!
It's officially Opening Day. It's funny how much stock I assign to this day every year, like a kid who has a shitty day at school and skins his knee at recess and leaves his lunch bag at home and bombs his spelling test, and all he can think is "I just gotta get through the day and then I'll be home and Mom will make it all better."
As most of you know, it has not been an easy year for me (in terms of free time), and every time someone throws another Fushigi Ball into the metaphorical mix, I just keep repeating over and over "Everything will be fine as soon as March 31 gets here." (There it is! The first youtube hyperlink of the year! That felt good. And I'm placing the over-under MLB odds of how many hyperlinks I do in one season at: 713.)
Additionally, I just spent the last hour online looking for this Calvin and Hobbes strip where Calvin comes home from a bad day and hugs Hobbes and says something to the effect of "things are looking up!" Copyright stuff makes it hard to find stuff these days, so maybe take the under?
Ok, I'm sorry. I'm delirious. I can never sleep the night before Opening Day (kind of like my boy Timmy here), so my coherence isn't up to snuff right now.
(Nothing, NOTHING, will ever top yesterday though, when I came home from celebrating my 30th birthday, got on the phone with Time Warner at 5:30 in the morning for reasons still unknown, navigated my way through the automated system to get to a customer service rep, and then in between nodding off on the phone, she finally woke me up when she said "How can we help you?" And I responded, "HOW DO YOU UN-NEUTER A DOMESTICATED ANIMAL?")
I slept-talk to the Time Warner person in my first phone conversation as a 30 year old. There's a sentence I really never thought I'd say.
THINGS ARE LOOKING UP. So here's what's been going on in the last month:
I just turned 30 on Tuesday, and it was probably one of my favorite birthdays ever. I didn't have a big party or anything, me and my sister went out and my favorite people were there and I was just really happy.
I went to Florida for 5 days to see my parents and go to some spring training games, and it's worth noting that I met one of the rarest breeds of sports fans in existence: the diehard, optimistic, affable, intelligent METS FAN. Yep. It was quite remarkable. And quite wonderful to be around. Jaimie from Jupiter, FL is the bald eagle of baseball... there's nothing greater than a fan with that kind of uncompromised enthusiasm and good-natured heart.
(Maybe I'm just so used to foaming-at-the-mouth Mets fans on the LIRR who basically just stomp around in their "I refuse to resort to logic when discussing sports" sandwich boards, but either way, cheers to Mets Fan Jaimie from Jupiter for being the Fan of the Game.)
I didn't get to Tampa, so I only saw the Cards, Twinks, Marlins, and Mutts play. (Sorry, I got nothing in the way of analysis here. I could not recognize a single name on the rosters except--oh wait--Carl Pavano. Not even Ollie Perez was there.) But from what I saw from the Defensive Linemen players*, we're probably going to hit another 234 walk-offs against Minnesota this year, and the Mutts pitching looks as promising as junk mail.
*The Over-80 Jerseys of Rookies
Anyways, since I've graduated from college, I've missed opening day once, because of ACL surgery.
Tomorrow (well, today actually. 9 hours from now.) I will be missing it for the 2nd time. Because of work. A 6 and a half hour meeting. On opening day. That which does not kill us...
(Plus, things worked out pretty good that year I had ACL surgery on Opening Day of 2009.)
Wow, that felt so good to be irrationally superstitious again!!! I'm not even kidding.
I can just feel it. It feels like baseball's really back now.
And so am I.
I live for this, for MLB,
For every inning of sanctity,
For every pitch, for each at-bat,
Revering the talent beyond the stats.
I live for the scent of old leather mitts,
I live for the cadence of the walk-off base hit.
I live for the moment when winter gives way,
To the unmatched thrill of Opening Day.
I live for this, the stadium stands,
Fusing the hope of breathless fans,
The ballpark kinships, the impartial accord,
Strangers embracing when their team just scored.
The knowing nod that we give each other,
As we walk city streets of cap-clad brothers.
I live for the rivalries of rabid foes,
Who share a camaraderie only a true fan knows.
I live for this, all 30 teams,
And countless ambitions of childhood dreams.
The little league bats that grew into lumber,
The jerseys they wore of their role model’s number.
They’re heroes, they’re goats, they make grown men cry,
They can drive us to madness with one dropped pop fly.
Two leagues, 6 divisions, one World Series mission,
I live for their tribute to raw competition.
I live for this, the immutable ties,
Baseball endures past the scandals and lies.
Through gambling, through cheaters, through injecting the juice,
Through pine tar, through payrolls, through more drug abuse.
While some became cynics, and some became jaded,
The reality is that the game never faded.
Its imperfect beauty is a gauge of the times,
And the game still goes on, outlasting its crimes.
I live for this, the pure liberation,
The relief baseball gives us from life’s tribulations.
Its soothing erasure of pressures we face,
The unerring stress that lines the rat race.
When I’m worn down and beaten, I can put it behind me,
At the sight of a rookie who runs a hard ninety.
For there’s nothing more freeing, to make things alright,
Than taking off work for a day game delight.
I live for this, the history,
No single game is lost on me.
Each anthem rendition will give me chills,
A team takes the field, and time stands still.
The Cooperstown halls and the ghosts of the greats,
Who once were just men who reigned at the plate.
And years from now, I’ll be able to say,
Of some inductee: “I once saw him play…”
I live for this, for MLB,
The rapture and sublimity.
The tension that drenches a full count with two out,
The 9th inning rally that dismantles a rout.
The low-scoring game, the battle of aces,
The 12th inning jam, the loading of bases.
I live for the rush when baseball arrives.
The heart-stopping moments we feel most alive.
The highs, the lows, I’ll take it all,
I live for the sound of the words, “Play ball!”