Even as I pass the half century mark, opening day in major league baseball was still like Christmas morning when I was a kid. Just simple, innocent, pure joy. A chance to always be a kid. In fact, until just recently, when I watched baseball players on television or on the field they still looked older than me, even though most of them are some 25 years younger.
But MLB has ruined this special moment. It's been happening progressively. For some time, opening day has started on a Sunday night, on the same day as many teams were still playing their last spring training game. Once upon a time, opening day started at 1 p.m. (at respective time-zone stadiums) across the country. Sitting at Dodger Stadium, you knew the same pageantry was happening all across the country. Sunday night opening "day" tainted this.
But it's even worse now. This year, baseball opened up in Japan with a game between the Red Sox and A's. (They've done this sporadically a couple previous seasons.) If one even knew about the game (featuring last year's world champions), you had to watch it at 3 a.m. (on the West Coast). What's worse, is that the teams come back to the U.S. to continue their spring training games -- after their season has already started! -- with the Red Sox, for example, playing three practice games against the Dodgers (one in the old Coliseum). Plus the opening game and results get relegated to page 8 (or something like that) in the sports section.
It's just awful. All for the sake of marketing the game and making more bucks (of course). I guess what makes me most mad is that I'm one -- a longtime huge baseball fan -- who didn't know about opening day until it was too late. So it ruined a tradition The Misanthrope and I have shared for many years: picking the winners for each division, league and the championship before the first pitch of the season is thrown.
Now opening day is just another day at the ballpark.
What a shame.