Every baseball fan knows there’s something special about Opening Day in Cincinnati. Fred Schweb Jr once noted the day opening up the MLB season is held in such high regard in the Queen City, that it is bested only by Christmas. As a lifelong baseball fan, I tend to believe the day is more like a spring version of Christmas.
While it is not considered a holiday, even though you’d have trouble making that argument in the Cincinnatie, both Christmas and Opening Day have a big buildup before the day actually arrives. Just as the Christmas craze begins shortly after we’ve all consumed our Thanksgiving turkey, the Opening Day craze begins shortly after the end of the football season.
By the last snap of football’s biggest game, countdowns until Spring Training begin to flood social media. It’s the longest couple weeks of the year for a baseball fan, as they realize the unofficial start to the season is only a few weeks away.
I liken the transitional period from the end of football to the beginning of baseball to the feeling a kid gets when the first present is placed under the Christmas tree.
At that point, the big day can’t get here soon enough. You find yourself dusting off your spring clothes, or looking up videos online on how to make your yard look like a major league field, of which I am guilty.
Once Spring Training finally arrives, you’re ecstatic. Those first few photos and video clips of the catchers and pitchers reporting to their team’s designated Spring Training homes just makes the wait until Opening Day almost unbearable.
The first Spring Training games are like getting that first Christmas present. The present is largely forgettable, and usually from some relative you barely remember, but that present also brings hope and the assurance that more presents will surely come, and soon.
The day before Opening Day brings much of the same excitement as Christmas Eve. You know there’s just one more sleep until the big day, the day you’ve been waiting for all year.
You spend the day before making sure everything on your to-do list has been completed, so nothing short of an emergency will prevent you from enjoying Opening Day.
That night, as you lay in bed, you are so excited for the beginning of the season you just can’t get to sleep. You imagine the view of the field, the crowd noise, and the various smells of the ballpark, before you finally fall asleep with a smile on your face resembling that of Ralphie Parker, in “A Christmas Story”.
Finally, after the long wait, Opening Day arrives. You wake up before your alarm clock sounds, and you make it to your kid’s bus stop 10 minutes before the bus arrives, perhaps the first time all school year.
To you, a baseball fan, the air is crisp and refreshing no matter what the actual weather is that day. Your lawn has never looked so green, and other people notice a pep in your step.
Today is the greatest day in sports, the day we all celebrate not only a return of a game, but the greatest game the planet has ever seen, and one that was surely divinely inspired.
Welcome back baseball, you were sorely missed.
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext 1931, or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.