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Opening Day

Four years ago, I was hardly excited for the baseball season to begin; the Mariners had lost Alex Rodriguez to a division rival, and to counteract the lost offense they brought in an over-the-hill second baseman and some little Asian guy with a hole in his swing. I was upset and pessimistic, and the last thing I wanted to watch was A-Rod playing short for the Rangers on Opening Day.

And yet, sure enough, there I was in front of the television, watching Texas take on the "home" Blue Jays at Hiram Bithorn stadium on the first of April. It wasn't just passive observance, either - I got into it, and was thoroughly delighted when Alex was charged with an error on the first ball hit his way. I watched Esteban Loaiza mow through what was supposed to be a dangerous lineup, and by the time Billy Koch recorded the final out of the game, the joy of baseball had returned, and I couldn't wait for the Mariners to start their season (and what a season it was).

Baseball doesn't need to oversell a Boston/New York matchup to generate excitement about the season. Watching the Tigers face the Royals, and knowing that David DeJesus' infield single was the first official hit of the year, would be enough for me. Opening Day has always had a special feel to it, and much like the Christmas Eve family get-together where your aunt gets drunk and the dinner roast falls on the floor, the significance isn't so much the content of the day as it is the meaning of the day itself.

Will Carroll said it pretty well in yesterday's UTK:

I feel a bit like Keith Olbermann, constantly counting down towards Opening Day. Look at that--it's so important, feels so much like a real holiday, that we capitalize it. It should be a holiday, where everyone leaves work and spends a day at the local ballpark, out in the sun remembering what it's like. Leave the computer behind and head to the best baseball you can find, whether that's in the big fancy mallparks of the big leagues or in a shaved dirt patch where the teenagers play. It might not be a national holiday yet, but I'll treat it like one.

Blez at Athletics Nation echoes Carroll's sentiments, pushing for Opening Day to become a national/federal holiday:

"My fellow Americans, there has been one steady, relentlessly binding fabric to our nation.  One element that has held us strong and brought us joy through good times and bad.  It unites us in our differences and brings us together.  Its wondrous history gave rise to the majesty of Ruth, the tragic yet heart-wrenching words of Gehrig and the still amazing resiliency of Mr. Jackie Robinson.  One day a year I propose that we stop and reflect on all the moments of baseball history that have brought father and son, mother and daughter and generations together.  This is a day when I encourage parents to go out in their yard or local park and throw the ball around and remember the glory and joy that is our National Pastime.  I give you, National Pastime Day."

Baseball is five hours away. At last.