Another Opening Day

by Steve

President Wilson opens the season

This place started out as a blog about sport. I pretty quickly realised that I didn’t have anything interesting to say about sporting matters, so I decided to broaden the focus of the blog, as I had nothing interesting to say about lots of other things too. Still, the lack of sporting posts doesn’t mean that I don’t like sport anymore. Far from it. One such day of excitement is baseball’s Opening Day.

The first day of the season in any sport is a strange event. It has a lot of fuss around it, a lot of meaning attached to it, but in the grand narrative of a season really isn’t that important. There is a long way to go and plenty of teams start well and fade badly, or start badly and rally as the season continues.

I suppose the fuss comes partly from the hype attached to all mainstream sport, and partly from the fact it is great to have *insert sport of your choice here* back on your screens/on your radio/in your hometown/etc. Of course there have been pre-season games/warm-up games/Spring training, but finally here are games that actually matter, will actually count for something. Fandom thrives on competition, not exhibition.

But, as I say, whatever happens opening day, there is still a long way to go. I’m delighted the baseball season has started again, but I won’t be getting too carried away by my favourite team, the Mets, winning 11-2. They really haven’t got a great team this year, so game one of 162 could easily end up being the best game of their whole season. Not to be too pessimistic.

However, there is some fun in listening to game on the radio (Mets/Padres) – which certainly made my decorating efforts go a lot quicker – and in watching a game too (Dodgers/Giants) – which made the beer that followed the decorating taste just a little bit sweeter.

And there was fun in the little stories being told. Baseball offers great stories, and is one of the great narrative forms. The Mets had some new faces, including the fun and energetic Collin Cowgill, who hit a grand slam home run and looks likely to become a cult figure for a fanbase without many good players to root for, and saw the Major League debut of relief pitcher Scott Rice, who has waited 14 years for a chance to play at the top level. I can’t imagine many sports where a player would get such a chance so late in their career.

The big names also played their part for the curtain raiser. I particularly enjoyed watching Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers not only pitch a shut-out against the Giants, but also hit a home run to set his team on course for victory.

I’m sure my interest will ebb and flow across the season, but I enjoy the constant of baseball over the summer. There are always games going on, always tales being told, always something worth my interest. Each game in isolation can be enjoyed on its own terms and doesn’t need the hype and the flannel to make it worthwhile, and may only seem significant with hindsight come September. The struggling teams can be as much fun to watch/listen to as the successful ones, the journeymen as entertaining as the superstars.

Now to check out my probably awful fantasy baseball team…

Image from the Library of Congress, via Flickr