My father once told me, “Every year around now there’s Passover, Easter and Opening Day. I always know which one I’ll be celebrating.” Religious allegiances aside, baseball’s first act makes a compelling case for holiday status. Don’t believe me? Allow me to elaborate.
10:09 a.m.: I leap out of bed, skip into my living room and flip on the TV. The Cardinals are playing the Reds. As the reception flickers and comes to life, I cross my fingers, hoping to get a glimpse of an Albert Pujols at bat before I leave for my first class.
The Cards’ No. 2 hitter strikes out, and up comes Pujols. Three pitches go by. I pour my morning orange juice without taking my eyes off the reigning MVP.
Then, on the fourth pitch, a swing and a drive. Back to the track, to the fence and beyond. Home run, Pujols! There is no way I’m going to my class now — I’m hooked. That, and I have to scrub about eight ounces of orange juice from my couch.
12:25 p.m.: The Indians are hitting against the White Sox, and the batter hits a sharp line drive up the middle. The Sox pitcher, Mark Buehrle, kicks at the ball, deflecting it toward first base and into foul ground. He chases after it, and with the batter bearing down and almost to first base, Buehrle snatches the ball with his glove and flips it, without looking, between his legs to the first baseman for the out. Amazing. If Jackie Chan is still making kung-fu movies, he should call up
1:30 p.m.: I am in class and about as happy to be there as a terrorist is at the sight of Jack Bauer. Somewhere around this time, Jason Heyward, the next superstar, began his big-league career by jacking a monster home run. In the past month, I have heard baseball experts compare Heyward to Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron. That’s three of the top players of all time. He’s the Lebron of baseball. He’s played one game and already has a highlight-worthy homer to his credit. But I missed it because I was in class. If this isn’t a good enough reason to make baseball a holiday, I don’t know what is.
10:11 p.m.: The Mariners win their opener in the ninth inning thanks to a go-ahead hit by some person named Casey Kotchman. After the game, I Googled “Casey Kotchman” to figure out who the heck he is.
Google gave me the following three results: A Myspace layouts salesperson, a first baseman who drove in a grand total of seven runs with Boston last year and a softball player from the College of Charleston who lists Italian as her favorite food. You know what? I’m not sure which is the one who delivered that winning hit. My money’s on the softball player. Never bet against Italian food.
I learned something this Monday: From the homers, the close games, the beautiful defensive plays and the fatherly advice, Opening Day deserves to be a holiday. Next year, I welcome all of you to celebrate.
Freelancer Alex Harkaway can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org