Dear Opening Day,
The beauty in you is not beholden to the day’s outcome. It’s about what you represent.
As we fold up your flag buntings and watch your paint fade from the freshly trimmed grass, I’m thankful for your arrival.
For baseball fans across the globe, you exemplify hope, optimism and security.
Because for a few short hours under a sunny spring sky, as the aroma of BBQ fills the air of a buzzing Kauffman stadium, the playing field is even.
Teams with 300 million dollar payrolls have the same chances as the little engines that could. Everyone’s at the same starting line, just waiting for your iconic, “Play Ball!”
Sometimes it’s tough to appreciate what you stand for when the reality of a team’s chances cloud excitement. But for one day, it doesn’t matter.
Because for a 10-year old baseball fan, it’s simply the return of something they dearly love.
Opening Day is a national holiday for America’s pastime. Half the school gets decked in Royal blue. The cool teacher puts the game on TV. Kids skip recess to catch half an inning. And the sounds of that soothing voice of summer blares on the bus ride home.
There may even be a year where dad comes to school and tells the secretary their kid has a doctor’s appointment at 3:10. A sly smile unravels as backpacks and pencils get replaced by a baseball glove and cracker jacks.
Everything that happens in the game is icing on the cake. Maybe Alex Gordon makes his big league debut, only to strike out with the bases loaded. Or perhaps Carlos Beltran smashes a walk-off home run, convincing the city that 2004 is absolutely the Royals’ year.
There’s hope for what the season could bring, but regardless the outcome, for the next six month’s there’s major league baseball in town. A train always churning that we have a ticket for. The passengers hop on and off and the ride gets bumpy, but every year, that train pulls right back into the station.
Opening Day will always be there. Baseball will always be there.
On special summer nights when the family heads to the K, no one has a clue what will happen or what time they’re coming home. That mid-August game won’t bring the excitement of Opening Day, but instead something more personal. It helps relieve stress and takes thousands of minds off the details of life’s hardships. For just a few hours, nothing else matters. Sit back and relax, cause baseball’s on.
There’s inevitably fewer fans in the stands when game 162 rolls around. The full season is a war and the guy who painted his belly blue for game one, may not make it through the grind.
And that’s okay. Because baseball will always make it through.
So, thank you. Thanks for being a day for millions of people look forward to. Thanks for providing memories, good and bad, that help shape why we love the game you foster, that create shared experiences for an entire city.
I may not always appreciate you or the season that soon follows your arrival, but I’ll always be thankful for the hope and optimism you bring, during a time we need it most.