Opening Day: For the Love of The Game

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Today is Opening Day for major league baseball, with the L.A. Dodgers at the S.F. Giants, and the Atlanta Braves at the Philadelphia Phillies.

Much has occurred in recent years to damage the reputation of major league baseball: the first billion dollar palaces (the "New" Yankee Stadium and the N.Y. Mets Citi Field), corporate naming rights on stadiums and fields (formerly reserved for eccentric owners or the team) built for multi-millionaire prima donna ballplayers (yeah, I'm talking about you Alex Rodriguez) who "allegedly" abuse performance enhancing drugs. This asterisk* era of baseball has made it difficult to remain a dedicated fan of America's pastime.

Opening Day remains to this day an almost religious experience for me. It is the one day of the year when every team is tied for first place and everything is possible. The failures of the past season are forgotten and forgiven, and the hopes and dreams of every fan are that "maybe this year our team will win the pennant and go to the World Series." There is a sense of possibility and hopeful optimism, a sense of renewal and rebirth with the coming of Opening Day.

Anticipation of Opening Day begins in late winter and grows stronger with each passing day. To this day, the four sweetest words in the English language are for me "pitchers and catchers report" to Spring Training. Childhood memories of playing Little League baseball and sandlot baseball can be triggered by the faintest scent of fresh cut grass on a warm spring day, the smell of a sun-warmed leather baseball glove, and the smell of popcorn and hot dogs wafting from a nearby vendor's cart.

Despite the many failings of this asterisk* era of baseball, it has not diminished my love for the game. Nor can anyone ever take from me my memories of some of baseball's greatest legends who I had the distinct privilege to see play, or my memories of some of the greatest games ever played which I can replay over again in my mind as if it were only yesterday.

James Earl Jones (as Terrence Mann) in the movie Field of Dreams said it best:

The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America is ruled by it like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. Oh, people will come,
Ray. People will most definitely come.

Bonus video: Centerfield by John Fogerty.

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