Here we are, Baltimore…Opening Day for the Baltimore Orioles. The rosters are set, the players are ready, and all of you fans are presumably excited. Today is a holiday across the nation – but especially in Baltimore.
Every team has traditions that they feel are special. However I would submit that NOBODY does Opening Day like the Orioles. NOBODY. The image of the players and coaches running onto the field from center field on that orange carpet never seems to get old for Orioles fans. But let’s back up a moment and go back to pregame…
…when many fans gather at Pickles and Sliders across the street. The Orioles alway hold Opening Day at 3 PM, which gives people time to spend much of the morning and early afternoon “pregaming.” This is something that happens before each of the Orioles’ 81 home games – it’ll go on prior to Wednesday night’s game. But things are a bit different and a bit more special on Opening Day.
Then the fans stream into the yard, and see the players enter on that orange carpet. However the one thing that always gets me is actually the day’s lone somber moment. As part of the pregame pomp and circumstance, the Orioles read the names of the members of the organization who have passed on since last year’s Opening Day. Does it put a temporary damper on the day’s festivities? Yes. But this is an organization that values it’s history, and that includes all of the people who are and have been a part of it. So in my view that’s an important part of things.
Once the teams have been introduced, the national anthem sung, and the first pitch ceremony concluded, it’s time to PLAY BALL! At that point, it’s just baseball. In essence, it’s no different than any other game. But it’s still Opening Day, which makes it special.
And on that note, the Orioles will today open the season with a truncated and in effect a disjointed two-game set against Toronto. Kevin Gausman gets the nod on the mound for the Birds this afternoon, and he’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Marco Estrada. Game time is set for just after 3 PM.
I’ve had people tell me that the Orioles overdo it on Opening Day. Why all the pomp and circumstance? Why so much paegentry? Why not just introduce the players on the base lines and that’s it?
First off I would refer you to the famous Terrence Mann quote fro Field of Dreams:
America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.
This is America’s pastime. Yes people love to suggest that the NFL is now king in America. But it’ll never be America’s pastime. Opening Day is a celebration of the return of baseball, but also a celebration of America, and everything for which she stands. It’s a celebration of summer, good times, beach trips, barbeques, and family. And yes, a celebration of baseball…the sport which like America, marches on like an army of steamrollers. The sport which reminds us of all that once was good – and will be again.
And if that’s not enough for you, this is just how things are done in Baltimore on Opening Day! Every team and every city has it’s tradition – this is part of what makes the orange and black so great. This my friends, is The Oriole Way.