There is something about baseball. I heard someone say earlier this week that it offers the opportunity for total immersion. "Best of" discussions. WHIP, Slugging percentage, Wins Above Replacement. Tall tales. Small remembrances. Summer. Standings. Pennant races. All sports offer retreat, but not all of them offer the opportunity to get lost.
And today, my friends, is Opening Day at Camden Yards. Last night, I read my Opening Day post from last year.
"I can't remember a year where the expectations for this team were lower." Ha!
But even with all of that disappointment, Opening Day feels the same every year. I feel no different today than I did on April 6, 2012. If you will excuse the indulgence, there is some secular religiosity to it. ("Now Tom, those two words don't make any sense togeth..." Shh. Shh. It's Friday. Live a little.) Regardless of your creed, for those who celebrate "baseball", this is a day of rebirth. Baseball differs from all other sports in its longevity. We are inaugurating a 162 game slog, during which anything can happen.
For the past five years, I have attended Opening Day at Camden Yards. It is the closest Baltimore gets to Mardi Gras. And there is something I can't quite pick out that explains why a city with a perennially bad baseball team goes all out for the first day in the home stadium. Why celebrate another five months of being the laughing stock of national sports media? You have to believe that there is a root optimism there. An irrational optimism that is worth celebration. We need holidays for irrational optimism.
I love the idea so much I almost miss it. Almost. But this year, the optimism is rational. We saw the other side of the mountain and it was glorious. We were a few plays, if not a few pitches, away from beating our division rival in the Playoffs. My, my, what would that have felt like?
For the rest of my life, whatever happens to this franchise, I will remember the Opening Days when we were celebrating "nothing with the hope of something". I will (unfortunately) resent those of you who told me you stopped going to games "in 2003", but then somehow found your Orioles caps (and a dozen stories about being a "long suffering fan") in about August of last year. Sorry, I will. I will still be amazed when the Orioles have a winning record and ask other dedicated fans "Can you believe this?" And I will get lost in baseball when the mood suits me.
That's all for today. Have a great Friday doing what you love. It's impossible not to.