A love letter to Major League Baseball's Opening Day - KCTV5 News

A love letter to Major League Baseball's Opening Day

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Dear Opening Day,

Thank you.

You may have thought I’d be mad after a disappointing game, but the beauty in you is not beholden to the day’s outcome. It’s about what you represent.

I’ll admit that I probably wasn’t as excited for you to come as in year’s past, but as we fold up your flag buntings and watch your paint fade away from the freshly trimmed grass, I’m thankful for your arrival.

You see, it doesn’t matter if I root for the Yankees, Rockies or Royals, you exemplify hope, trust and a sense that everything’s going to be alright.

Because for a few short hours under a cloudy spring sky, as the aroma of BBQ on the grills of a jam packed stadium fills the air, the playing field’s even. Teams with $200 million payrolls have the same chances as the team who charges for Gatorade in the clubhouse. Everyone’s at the same starting line, just waiting for you to say, “Play Ball!”

It can be tough to appreciate what you stand for when the reality of a team’s chances cloud a fan base’s hope, but for one day, it doesn’t matter.

Don’t believe me? Just think about Opening Day for that 10-year old baseball fan in grade school.

To that kid, the odds, prognosis and realities of the business are non-existent. To that kid, Opening Day is just the return of something they dearly love.

No matter your age, Opening Day was always a different day for even the most casual fans.

Half the school was decked in team colors. Teachers planned their lesson plans around the start time of the game. The kids that followed every step off the offseason showed off their knowledge on the playground.

Then for the really lucky ones, there’s a year in there where dad comes to school and tells the secretary their kid has a doctor’s appointment at 3:15. A sly smile unravels as backpacks and pencils are replaced by a baseball glove and cracker jacks.

Then there’s game time, when the one cool teacher turns the game on TV. A few diehards skip recess just to catch half an inning, before hoping on a bus blasting the sounds of that soothing voice of summer.

That kid runs home faster than ever before, and when asked by the neighbor what all the fuss is about, they holler, “It’s Opening Day!”

Everything that then happens in the game is really just icing on the cake. Maybe they witness Alex Gordon make his big league debut, only to strike out with the bases loaded. Or perhaps fan favorite Carlos Beltran smashes a walk-off home run, convincing half the city that 2004 is absolutely the Royals’ year.

Regardless of the outcome, that kid now knows that every other week or so, baseball will be played in their town. That if they do their chores and homework, they’ll be able to catch the last couple innings of a Wednesday night ball game with dad.

Then on that special summer night, when the family goes to the park, no one has a clue what’s going to happen or when they’re going to come home. Because for just a few hours, no matter your age, nothing else matters. Sit back and relax, cause baseball’s on.

Fans grow old and understandably more negative once they grasp the concept that their team will not in fact win every game. But even for them, opening day still means shuffled schedules, one-day vacations or taking that occasional sick day.

Why’s all this so special? Well, what else provides that type of feeling, atmosphere and hope across an entire city?

Yes, it’s hope for what the season could be, but it’s really taking solace in the fact that for around six months, there’s always a train churning that you have a ticket for. The passengers hop on and off all year long, it gets pretty bumpy, but every year around the same time, that train pulls back into the station.

You’ll always be there. Baseball will always be there.

That game in August won’t bring the excitement that Opening Day will, but instead something different, often more personal. It’ll give a person three hours with their dad before heading back home. It’ll be a great first date, or the place someone turns after a breakup. It’ll help relieve stress and take thousands of mind off whatever keeps them up at night.

Regardless of if it’s a 100-win or 100-loss season, those aspects of the game are always the same. Sure the winning is great, but it’s those qualities that cause families to pass the game down from generation to generation.

When game 162 rolls around, there will inevitably be less people in the stands than there were for game one. The full season is a war and the guy who painted his belly blue may not make it through the grind.

And that’s okay. Because baseball will always make it through.

So, thank you. Thanks for being a day that millions of people look forward to. Thanks for providing memories, good and bad, that help shape why we love the game you foster.

I may not always appreciate you or the season that soon follows your arrival, but I’ll always be thankful for what you stand for.


Baseball fans everywhere

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