Its opening day. A day of new beginnings. A day of new horizons. A day of new hope. For players like Eduardo Nunez, it’s a chance to prove him. A chance to show he can succeed in “the show” and be a valuable asset to the team. For others, like Jorge Posada, it might be his last hurrah. His last tour to take in the glory of MLB life, before he retires to a life of luxury.
For Derek Jeter, it might be a chance at redemption. A chance to show the critics that he is still able to perform at a high level, despite his age, despite everything else the critics complain about which I completely ignore. Mark Teixeira has yet another chance to have a hot April and get that spring slump monkey off his back.
For Russell Martin, it’s a new beginning. A chance to recapture what could have been his, except for terrible luck. He is the only person I think I might be able to say, is almost as unlucky as me.
But what of us fans? What is opening day for us? We are not on the field. We are not turning double plays and hitting home runs. What does opening day mean to us? A chance to go to Yankee Stadium? A chance to now spend $35 to park the car, and enter the kingdom that George built where we will overpay for beer, and hotdogs and popcorn and souvenirs for the kids? Why in the world do we look forward to this?
For everyone, Opening day is different. I could not wait for opening day. Winter was way too long, way too cold and way too hard for me. I was sick of the snow, sick of shoveling, sick of trying to park my car in snow covered streets where residents came out and screamed at me in foreign languages for moving their beach chair so I could park and visit my clients for an hour. One old man in his 80s actually came out and threw snowballs at me. Holy cow man, it’s just a parking space! He was willing to actually cause physical harm to me over a parking space. Definitely it is time to lose winter.
I was sick of kids inside the house. And I am definitely sick of the music and sound effects of Wii Wipeout! I’m sick of seeing them jump all over the living room as they try to get across the big red balls. Seriously, one day they will wake up and that disc will be gone! Forever!
So when my Lenten Roses began to bloom, I knew it was time for baseball. Real baseball. Not spring training fake baseball. But nine real innings of baseball watching MLB players battle for supremacy. I’m sure I would be more thrilled by spring training if I went to Florida, but that is not in the cards for me now, or in the future. So sitting at home and watching the pirates hawk tickets, and seeing A and AA players play on the big field because the real MLB veterans are already at home laying by their pools, just really isn’t that intense experience I am looking for. Any game where players are doing conditioning running in the outfield during an actual game does not count as a true athletic contest. Its exhibition. And it’s boring by the 5th inning.
Opening day of baseball season brings a chance for me and my family to escape reality. It is a time for us to bond over games, and for the few short hours the game is on, pretend that all is well with the world. That no one in my living room has an illness or syndrome that needs to somehow be addressed. We ignore the mounting pile of medical bills on my dining room table that need to be paid from my nonexistent salary, for which I sarcastically thank you Governor Christie for cutting my hours, because education is a worthless investment in NJ. It’s a chance for us to interact with each other on a level of stupidity that truly doesn’t matter as we argue over the life and death topics of AJ’s pitching, or who should be backup catcher. And just for that moment, we are normal. And the world is fun.
I wonder if the NY Yankees understand all that is expected for them to do! They need to heal my family from the stress of living. To make us forget our worries for a few hours. They need to bring sunshine after a long, hard winter and to provide an opportunity for us to bond, as people, as we sit together on the couch eating popcorn.
As much as many of us fans like to live and die with every game, we know that is not the reality of our lives. I wonder if the players understand that in the large picture, baseball doesn’t really matter. It’s the entertainment value they provide. And they are in the true sense of the word, entertainers. Because that is all baseball is entertainment. It’s an escape from the everyday; better than a movie, and cheaper than a play. Baseball is a chance for families to bond, as they sit on the couch and have a common experience and for a few hours, forget about the sadness and discontent in their lives and build memories of fun and feelings of love. Which is why we love the Yankees. We associate them, their highs and lows, with the happy family times spent with each other. Because that is what really matters, the relationships, the bonds, between us as we age, and grow and change.
This year, Andy Pettitte will be one of us. No longer a legend on the field, but still a legend off the field. I wonder if he will be watching baseball and reliving his past, or watching baseball as the family experience we have long enjoyed at my home. I wonder if he will see the entertainment value, or live and die with every pitch. I wonder if he needs to join us in my living room and forget about life for a while. I’ll even make popcorn.