A new beginning starts today: I love opening day!

It has finally come back to us! After what seemed like an incredibly long winter, here we are once again. We are glued to our televisions enjoying what has consistently been one of America’s pure joys — not only for my generation, but for many generations before it. A new season is upon us, and once again, our expectations are high.

Not only is it the start of a new season for all fans and the players, but it is also a clean slate. There is no way to know exactly which teams we will see playing in October. Every year, there are obvious favorites that do not meet expectations, and there are teams that rise to the occasion to achieve much more than anybody thought they could. Unpredictability gives us all hope, and that hope is what makes grown men (me included) feel like children on Christmas each opening day.

The fact that anything can happen is the core to what drives us as fans. This is the greatness of sport. Perhaps a rookie may dominate; just as Dwight Gooden had in the mid-80s, or maybe a veteran will rise up for one last stretch run (Jamie Moyer). Maybe a pitcher who has been consider one of the best in his generation (Roy Halladay) will finally get the World Series ring he has been chasing. In contrast, there is a chance an all-time great (Derek Jeter) could add to his already legendary achievements with yet another title. Nothing will be guaranteed. Everything must be earned. There is nothing better!

The possibilities are endless. Last season, we witness an individual domination (Justin Verlander) that nobody expected and a team (St. Louis Cardinals) that seemed all but dead in late August that rallied back to accomplish what most experts thought they couldn’t. Just as in every other season, we were left wanting more. We went into the holiday season counting the days until spring training, and, in many cases, we planned our vacations around “our boys” starting it all over again. Finally February came, and our favorite players were dangled in front of us like treats in front of a puppy. We were overcome with excitement and told ourselves that opening day was just a few weeks away.

Those weeks flew by! Now, we all have our tickets bought and our fantasy baseball teams picked. We purchased our new jerseys for the players we truly believe are going to make a difference this year. We have the beer packed for our tailgates, and we have requested off work in order to experience an MLB-overload tomorrow. The part of each of us that has been missing for the last few months is back, and with it comes the fear, excitement, nervousness, anticipation, happiness, curiosity and overall satisfaction of knowing that pretty much every night for the next seven months we all have plans.

These plans are with a first love: baseball. Sure, for the majority of us, we will not end the season as winners, but I can guarantee that next April we will come back for more — once again, believing this might be our year. It was once a game to us, now it’s a lifestyle. What started as a simple catch has grown into an immense passion. Thanks, dad, for introducing me to such a cruel, sometimes painful, passion. No really, thank you! I don’t know what I would do without it.

Play ball!!!

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