You know what we get to do today, Brooks? We get to play baseball.
— Jim Morris, The Rookie (2002)
Two words that every baseball fan loves to hear. Two words that mark the unofficial official start to Spring. Two words that invoke hopes and dreams of what could happen seven months from now.
Today, every team starts 0–0. The pitchers all have an ERA of 0.00. The batters haven’t struck out. The fielders haven’t committed an error. And the fans that arrive to the ballpark with its pristine field with visions of their team lifting the World Series trophy in the fall. Even the Cubs fans for the past 10o-plus years have entered Opening Day thinking this is their year, although that could actually be true this year.
Baseball might not be what it once was in this country. Football is undoubtedly the biggest sport this country has to offer.
But it’s still our past time. No matter what, baseball is a part of the fabric of America. As James Earl Jones says in Field of Dreams, “America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.”
And this day is a reminder of that.
No other opening day — not football, not basketball, not hockey — invokes the imagination of what could be. No other opening day gives everyone hope of what could be. No other opening day holds more uncertainty than baseball.
And that’s what we have here today. No one knows what’s going to happen over the course of 162 games. No one exactly knows who the best team in the league is this year. Ask a group of baseball experts and you’ll likely get answers that include the Astros, the Royals, the Mets, the Cubs, the Rangers, the Cardinals and maybe the Pirates.
But there’s no one team that’s expected to dominate. This year, the field is very wide open and that makes this opening day so special. I still remember going to so many opening days for the Rangers as a kid and believing that this might be the year they turn it around. Of course, that didn’t really change until 2010 or so, but it was fun to dream. It was fun to think about what could happen.
And this year’s Opening Day provides just that. At ballparks across the country, fans will pack the stadiums, all polished up and ready to start the 162 game trek. And every fan that goes through the turnstiles will believe that it’s their team’s turn this year to lift the trophy at the end of the year; that this ride will not be in vain. And in the end, one team’s fans will be right.
It’s Opening Day. Let’s dream. Let’s hope. Let’s lose ourselves in this wonderful, nostalgic game.
But most of all, let’s play ball.