What Happened To Opening Day?

By Daniel Gustkey

Opening Day used to be the best day of the year.  Opening Day used to represent hope.  Even if you were sure your team might lose 100 games, Opening Day meant optimism.   Opening Day was baseball at it’s finest.  The fresh smell of the popcorn and hot dogs for those fortunate enough to spend it at the ballpark.  Opening Day meant talking about how your team was going to go 162-0 if they win, and 0-162 if they didn’t.  Opening Day meant dusting off that favorite ballcap and wearing it around with pride.  Opening Day was about American Flags covering the entire outfield, not games in Tokyo in the middle of the night.

For most of us, Opening Day meant not going to school and staying home to listen to your favorite play-by-play guys on TV or the radio.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have Rick Rizzs and the late, great Dave Neihaus in my life.  I can still hear Dave in my head calling Edgar Martinez’ double in 1995.  I can still hear Rick Rizzs describing the perfectly laid grass as Ichiro steps to the plate to kick off the season.  It’s the little things that make Opening Day special, those same little things that are being forcefully withdrawn.

Opening Day isn’t about the baseball anymore; it isn’t about the purity that makes baseball great.  Major League Baseball has put together a schedule in 2012 that features four different opening days, depending on your allegiance.  Ludicrous.

So which is the real Opening Day?  Was it last week when I was awake at 3 AM watching my beloved Seattle Mariners?  Is it tonight, when the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals stroll into Miami to take on the newly minted Miami Marlins?  Is it tomorrow, when the defending American League MVP Justin Verlander toes the rubber against the Boston Red Sox?  Or is it Friday, when Albert Pujols makes his debut for the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim of Orange County of Los Angeles)?  I’m so confused.

So how is it going to be, MLB?  Are we going to have this ridiculous circus of an Opening Day every April so you can call it Opening Day four times?  Hell, why don’t we have one game a day for 15 consecutive days?  If one is good, and four is better, 15 must be TRANSCENDENT.  Right?  Bueller?

Give us a break MLB.  Give us what we want.  We want one Opening Day.  Not 15, not three, not four, but one.  We want one day for baseball at its finest.  Give us one day to skip school or work and turn up our radios.  Give us one day to speculate at the thought of our team going undefeated.  Give us one day for eternal optimism.

We shouldn’t have to wait six days between the second and third regular season games.  That is simply absurd.  You have six months to implement creative scheduling.  Do with it what you will.  Just not Opening Day.

Let us all have eternal optimism, on the same day, together.

Opening Day is baseball in its purest form.  Let’s keep it that way.

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