The Commerce Journal

March 16, 2012

Opening Day prepares fans for summer, November glory

By Caleb Slinkard
The Commerce Journal

Commerce — Opening Day for Major League Baseball (which is technically April 5, in case you didn’t know), is only a few weeks away, and soon the sports world will become inundated with highlights, homeruns and spectacular catches. After decades of mediocrity, the Texas Rangers have made the World Series the last two years, and it’s fair to say that northeast Texas has caught a healthy dose of baseball fever.

Baseball has lost some of the luster it had during the 30s, 40s and 50s when it earned the moniker “America’s Pastime” and fans of all ages gathered around the radio or television to watch and listen to games. Obviously, the only thing I know about this supposed “Golden Age of Baseball” is what I read or watch, but there is a high level of appeal and nostalgia surrounding baseball that still endures to this day, untouched by millionaires and billionaires haggling over prices, bankrupt franchises, and steroid scandals.

Opening Day represents a new beginning for not just the 32 teams and players, but all of the millions of fans that associate with them. While the rosters and budgets vary from team to team (looking at you, New York Yankees), on Opening Day all teams are equal, and every single one has a chance to be victorious.

Opening Day doesn’t just mean a 162 game season. It means hot dogs, cold beer, and lazy summer afternoons. It means dads taking their children to games and, for the sports nerds among us, it means months and months of fine-tweaking our fantasy roster to squeeze as many saves, runs and steals as we can out of our players.

I try to attend as many games as I can, but I usually can only attend four or five Rangers games a year. Still, it’s refreshing to know that while stadium names, players, and even jersey designs may change, the game largely doesn’t, and it will be there in Arlington, waiting for me, whenever I want it.

Who knows how successful the Rangers will be this year? They’ve made some interesting moves, signing Japanese superstar Yu Darvish while letting last year’s ace C.J. Wilson walk to division-rival Los Angeles Angels, who also signed the best slugger in the game Albert Pujols. It’s fair to say that the Rangers will be competitive, and, with one of the most dominating batting lineups in the league, will probably make the playoffs.

But, in reality, no one really knows, and that is part of the mystery and beauty of Opening Day.