Opening Day offers a chance to dream that anything is possible
Part of the charm of Opening Day is that anything seems possible, including the idea that
Bonifacio never hit another home run in 2009 -- or much of anything else. He hit like it was, well, 1968. There were 155 players last year who were given enough playing time to qualify for the batting title. Bonifacio had the worst OPS of all of them.
Still, because Bonifacio had his day in the sun at the right time, Day 1, he earned his own corner in baseball history, along with such diverse Opening Day legends as
There are 2,430 major league regular season games scheduled this year. The 15 opening games -- one Sunday night, one Tuesday, but especially the 13 today that make this the traditional Opening Day -- occupy a special place in our consciousness. It is a day of lasting first impressions because, primed for baseball, we are at our most impressionable.
We've waited too long for this day -- since
It doesn't matter that Opening Day is rather meaningless when it comes to defining a season, as not only the false promise of Bonifacio proved last year. Also on Opening Day last year,
The fun gets underway when the Washington Nationals, scheduled for a 1:05 PM start, send a left-hander to the mound -- and then
The other storylines to watch from Day 1 include
Heyward's debut is the most eagerly anticipated Opening Day start since
Who knows what might become of Heyward, the 20-year-old kid with five tools, but baseball constantly connects generations in such subtle ways -- one star heading out as another heads in. For instance, on April 20, 1939 at Yankee Stadium,
You won't find a day on the baseball calendar with more of an inverse relationship between real value and emotional value. It's not a day to start coming to conclusions, but we will. It's little more than half of one percent of the season, but it brings out presidents.
The good folks of Cleveland used to provide the most stunning visual proof of how much we invest in Opening Day. They would fill the cavernous old Municipal Stadium to sit through the cold and wind to see off their typically wretched Indians into another season, and then immediately abandon them. In 1973, for instance, fully 12 percent of the Indians' entire attendance for the season showed up on Opening Day: 74,420 people. For the remaining 80 home games the Indians played in front of an average of 6,759 fans. It was as if Opening Day was the fans' holy day of obligation, the Christmas mass of the baseball liturgical year.
Opening Day is such a part of Americana that it should be a national holiday -- but that would take away the mischievous fun of playing hooky from school or work to go to the ballgame. Like everything else of value these days, Opening Day has been cut up, bought and sold, as in Sunday night baseball and specially marked baseballs available at online retailers for $19.50.
The heart of the day, however, is genuine. It was Opening Day in 1947 that became the most important day in American sports: the day a 28-year-old black man named