MLB Opening Day. There isn’t anything quite like it.
I still remember watching with my dad on TV as the Astros took the field after a long six-month break. It really didn’t matter if they were headed to 65 losses or 65 wins.
And there were certainly years they were destined for both.
Baseball was back, and that’s all that really mattered.
Honestly I don’t even remember who won most of those Opening Days.
I just knew that for almost every day of the next six months, there would be baseball on my TV.
Opening Day took on an even bigger meaning when I had kids of my own.
Over the past few years, if there was a day game, the kids were getting out of school early.
From balloons to snacks and pizza, we’d get on the couch and celebrate the Astros being back on our TV.
There was the time George Springer led off with a home run against the Mariners in 2017.
A year later, he duplicated the feat against the Rangers.
Last year, it was Justin Verlander that stole the show against the Rays.
Having my own kids share the game beside me meant even more than any quiet Opening Days on the couch could ever mean to me.
Ever since the Astros walked off the field in Game 7 against the Nationals, Opening Day has been on Spring’s mind.
She’s my 11-year-old daughter who doubles down as the Astros’ No. 1 fan.
When she found out Opening Day would in fact be Opening Night for this year’s team, she knew it would be a problem.
The recent tradition means getting out of school early was almost a given at the end of March. A night game meant a full day of school.
We never actually came up with the compromise of what the Astros’ opening day against the Angels would entail.
Today was the day Spring and her brother Cam were going to get picked up early.
The look on their faces was going to be priceless as they went home for an afternoon of baseball.
Even an Astros’ team that is now the official villain of the MLB was going to be cheered on without reservation by a 39-year-old and his 11-year-old kids.
In the unmistakable words of Spring, “it’s called strategy, not cheating.”
I spent more time than I should thinking of the perfect way to plan Opening Day.
And now as we’re sitting here on March 26, which was originally scheduled as Opening Day, all I have to say is “Dang.”
All of those plans, and even the season, seem so far away.
For obvious reasons, the kids won’t be at school to be surprised with an early trip home.
For any of the people who seem to revel in pointing out how trivial Opening Day, or any sport is at this point, I readily admit that you’re right.
I understand Opening Day takes a major backseat to the current events in the world.
In the grand scheme of things, today will be a mere footnote.
But I’ll also tell you for at least today, give us MLB fans a break. Even if we understand what it’s all about, that doesn’t make us miss it any less.
Maybe we’ll cue up a replay of last year’s Opening Day. Maybe we’ll pop in the World Series DVD.
There are several games both on TV and streaming that can be seen to ease a little of the pain.
But after a certain point, we’ll realize it’s nothing more than a hollow substitute.
All I can say is there is no need to apologize for missing Opening Day. No matter how you want to put it, today just won’t be the same.
But when everyday life, along with the sports world, returns to normal, then try not to take it for granted.
Whether Opening Day is on May 15, June 15 or March 26 of next year, we’re going to have a party in our house that dwarfs any of the last three years.
Hang in there.
As my wife has told me in the post-sports world of the last few weeks, this too shall pass.
Maybe when our everyday life returns, we’ll just appreciate it a little more.