Opening Day for the Baltimore Orioles is tomorrow. I have fond memories of Opening Day from when I was a kid; I’d always run home as quickly as possible to be in front of the television by 3 PM. If I could be there earlier to see the first pitch ceremonies (which often in Baltimore involved the President), even better.
The entire league seemed to open up on Monday, save for a few teams who would open on Tuesday if they played in indoor stadiums. And of course many teams would be off on Tuesday for the potential rain date. Somehow it just worked out, and it was always an unofficial national holiday.
And for the record, Opening Day still is an unofficial national holiday. However it’s evolved a bit, and in my mind that’s not necessarily a good thing. But it’s evolved, one way or the other.
In 2004, MLB tried an experiment with having a “Sunday Night Opener” for the first time, with the rest of the league opening on the traditional Monday. That first Sunday Night Opener was played at Camden Yards, and the Orioles beat the Red Sox that night. And that’s something that continues to this day, with the Sunday Night Opener often involving the defending champion.
And quite frankly, I like that concept. The NFL mirrors it with their Thursday Night Opener, and I think it’s kind of a cool quirk. However last year they further evolved things a bit, and that’s kind of where I draw a line. Now as opposed to the one game on Sunday night, there are also two afternoon games…
…this year it’s the Yankees at the Rays at 1 PM, the Giants at the Diamondbacks at 4 PM, and of course the Cubs at the Cardinals at 8:30 PM. Now let me be frank; seamheads such as myself will watch all of these games since they’re on. But that’s beside the point.
In my view, by having now three games today, the league now in effect has created rolling Opening Day. Most teams will still open tomorrow, and then be off on Tuesday. Then you’ll have some teams who’ll open on Tuesday and be off tomorrow if they play indoors. Such is life in the newly “evolved” world of MLB.
Some folks might ask why it’s such a problem, ESPECIALLY since I all but admitted that I’ll watch the games today. While I do appreciate instant replay in the game, I’m a traditionalist for the most part. Years ago, you appreciated the fact that kids in cities across America were doing the same thing you were doing: racing home to watch their hometown team’s Opening Day game. I would submit that with a slate of games now on Sunday, that concept is dulled just a bit.
Granted, the majority of the games are still held tomorrow (on Monday). However is today really “Opening Day,” or is it just a run-of-the-mill Sunday afternoon in Major League Baseball? Because if I were covering one of the teams in those games, I’d view it as just another Sunday in baseball.
I would also add that the league couldn’t have picked stranger matchups in their slate of games for today. Again, people like me will pay attention because it’s baseball. But outside of that and fans in the cities represented, are there that many people who are looking forward to sitting down and watching the Yankees and Rays or the Giants and Diaondbacks? Would it not have behooved the league to perhaps pick some games with a bit more pizzazz to put on National television?
In that same spirit, the Chicago Cubs also seemingly got the short end of the stick. A team who didn’t win for 108 years is a very compelling story, and one that’s well worthy of having on the Sunday Night Opener in the wake of them snapping that streak. Not to mention that they’re playing their most hated rival. However how can MLB look at itself while not having this game at Wrigley Field? In essence they’re saying, …great job after all those years, Cubs. As your reward you’re getting to open up on Sunday Night Baseball in front of a national audience, AT your most hated foe and in front of their screaming fans who hate you!
Somehow that doesn’t seem like a fair narrative. Then again, life’s not always fair. My opinion about that as well as my opinion about today’s games is irrelevant. It’s going to go down that way whether I like it or not! But the call of PLAY BALL! will ring out in Baltimore tomorrow afternoon, which is how it should be.