Christmas is a great day for me, especially now that I'm living 950 miles from home in New York. On Christmas, I get to go home again for a bit and see my family for the first time in over half a year.
Fourth of July is great. On the Fourth of July you grill out and enjoy the warm summer air, have a few beers and watch fireworks while being overly-patriotic for kicks and giggles. My birthday is great. On my birthday, all my close friends come together and I get to spend the day with them and maybe have more than a few beers.
But Opening Day. Opening Day is a whole other animal. Opening day is when I get to see my beloved Brewers take the field again, when I can hope that this pitcher will break out and become an ace and this player will put up MVP numbers and this player will stay healthy all year and finally the team will make and win a World Series. Opening Day, I look forward to for five long, cold months. Opening Day means winter is over. Opening Day means baseball is back.
On Opening Day, there are a lot of hyperbolic articles abound that will wax overly poetic and almost make you nauseous with the "the smell of fresh cut grass, the blue open skies, the crack of the bat"s. This is probably another one of those, where I'm being hyperbolic for the sake of it but today, honestly, it doesn't feel like it.
For the next six -- and hopefully seven -- months, the Brewers will be playing nearly every day. In fact, 89.5% of the 181 days between April 6 and October 4 will have the Brewers scheduled to play a baseball game. There'll be times this year where a day off will almost be a welcome relief, where the season will drag a bit, but it always comes right back around and will be just as exciting as today.
There's a reason people talk so fondly about baseball when it comes back. It holds so much meaning to so many people. Football is the most popular sport in the United States, sure, but baseball is different. The first weekend of football games is exciting and fun, a celebration of a new season. In baseball, there's a sense of tension or a calm before a storm. There's a reverence to Opening Day festivities that doesn't exist in any other sport. Football can be a lifestyle, but baseball is a religion. There's an aura around baseball of history and beauty and importance. It's impossible to explain accurately, but when you start paying attention to baseball, you start to feel it almost immediately.
Nobody can predict what will actually happen this season, though it's a fun and popular exercise to try. The Brewers absolutely could make the World Series just as they absolutely could finish fifth in the Central. They have 162 games to show who they are, a massive sample size in relation to other sports. The best teams will make themselves known, and today is the first day for most of them to start proving themselves.
Baseball is the best game in the world and it's back. Today is the best day of the year.