Believe in Opening Day

I start to tear up every time I watch the end credits of the Christmas movie, The Polar Express.

It’s not even one of my favorite holiday classics, I may have only seen the entire thing once or twice. I definitely don’t make it a point to sit down and watch it when December rolls around.

But I make sure I listen to the song.

Josh Groban’s Believe takes me back to so many childhood memories. The warm feelings of Christmas morning with family all around and holding onto the wonder and amazement of believing in Christmas.

Well, I believe in Opening Day.

Image

Both holidays, yes Opening Day is a holiday, evoke similar sensations of hope. People may get tired of hearing the same, “Hope Sprigs Eternal” and “There’s nothing like Opening Day.”

Yes, seeing is believing.

ImageNot everyday you get to see all 25 big league guys introduced, honored and standing down the lines of a sun-drenched packed stadium. That’s what makes Opening Day special, but it’s surely not all.

Most of it starts outside the park.

ImageImageImageImageThere’s swarming activity going on at every corner of the city. Pittsburgh was loaded last Thursday morning with fans, friends and foes. From the Strip District, to Downtown, to the North Shore parking lots — it felt like something special was about to happen. With wall to wall people walking around taking in the sights and tailgating, it was like a college football Saturday. With plenty of Phillies fans right neck in neck with us Pirates, it enhanced the football-feel — almost like a BCS bowl game.

Everybody is out and about in the hours before the gates open. Half the fun is just seeing who you’ll run into.

ImageJon Anderson, one of the original MLBloggers and hit sensation with the mceffect.com.

ImagePirates owner, Bob Nutting.

ImageColor commentator and former World Series champion Steve Blass.

It was hard not to get a little chocked up walking through the gates for the first time in months, even though it seemed like an eternity. There was still a light chill in the air, but the weather was perfect for an early April day.

Of course, a “Peaslee Pose” christened the new season.

As did this nice picture of Erin and I. The camera used for all these pictures is the one I received as a graduation gift last May. It’s big, it’s cool and I haven’t really figured out how to use it yet. But one of the PNC Park ushers fixed the settings and got the lighting to work just perfect. Really, though, it’s impossible to not take a beautiful picture in the most beautiful park in baseball.

See?

Like I said before, the number of Pirate fans was rivaled by an extremely healthy slew of Philly people. I don’t blame them for showing up in droves. However, I was surprised there was so many of them, considering it was Opening Day and during the week. Many made a weekend of it and I hope they enjoyed the better city in the great state of PA.

The new season is marking our first in a different section of the park. Section 315 is where I’ll be found all summer long.

A perfect view of the skyline, jumbotron and all game action. Specifically, on Opening Day, those riveting pre game introductions.

Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker, faces of the franchise are ready for a special year.

The game, itself, was just how I like it. Pitcher-dominated.

Erik Bedard impressed in his Pirates debut going seven innings, striking out four, while giving up six hits and allowing just one run — a Carlos Ruiz sacrifice fly where former Pirate Ty Wigginton scored on a bang-bang play at the plate.

He was upstaged by Roy Halladay who went a fantastic eight innings, giving up just two hits. The funny thing about those two hits — they came back-to-back by Alex Presley and Jose Tabata in the top of the first.

Jonathon Papelbon made his first appearance in a Philadelphia uniform and sent the Bucs down in order for the save.

How can you be disappointed in that? Arguably the best starting pitcher and closer in the game. The Phillies were without stars Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, but they still bring one of the most potent offensives in the game.

People come from far and wide for Opening Day. Maybe they won’t make it back to another game until mid-July when they’re buddies are celebrating a birthday and need an excuse to drink. They probably won’t follow the team until then and, frankly, they won’t care.

For one day, they do.

And that’s what is great about baseball. It’s a rebirth signaling summer, signaling sunshine, signaling warm nights, high fives, walk off home runs, complete game shut outs, diving catches and winning streaks.

It’s cool and all when football, basketball and hockey season starts, yet they still don’t draw the attention and gain the fondness of baseball Opening Day.

The remaining 161 games of the major league schedule won’t be as eventful or have the pomp and circumstance, but that’s what makes it great.

There are 161 more chances to make the season special and you have everything you need to enjoy them all — if you just believe.

2 Comments

Wonderful report and pictures Matt! Thanks for sending the picture where I was on TV. Your started did well. The only thing missing at Dodger Stadium was Vin Scully.

Wow, that seems like a blast to go down to the ballpark and experience all that. I’ll have to be sure to actually go to Opening Day one of these years.
-Mateo

http://mateofischer.mlblogs.com

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