Of Opening Day And A Blessed Lack of Time Machines

There are some truths I believe in.  Things I’ve noticed and just never seemed to change my mind about.  Here are a few:

  • Nobody cares why you’re late.  That’s fine if you have a legitimate excuse, but no one cares what it is.  You’re explaining how it took you 45 minutes to figure out the cat knocked your car keys under the couch.  I’m already thinking about what I want for dinner.
  • There should be no punter AND kicker on a football team.  You should be able to do both.  Why can’t you do both?
  • If you slow down to gawk at a wreck on the side of the road, you should lose your drivers license for the rest of the day.*
  • Major League Baseball Opening Day should be a nationally-recognized holiday.

*Stole this one from Joe Posnanski

That final truth is perhaps the one I feel strongest about.

I recognize all the other holidays, but I really don’t think I celebrate some of them.  Columbus Day and Arbor Day don’t have any particularly different feel to them…for me, at least.

I celebrate Opening Day.

TIME MACHINES

For all the moments I’ve wished time machines existed so I could go back and right some embarrassing Cliff-nerd wrong, Opening Day reverses my wish.  You see, I’m a die-hard Kansas City Royals fan, and Royals fans don’t have to deal with the reality of July (or even May) in wistful April.

My mother still claims George is my real father. My lack of a professional baseball career suggests otherwise.

Being a Royals fan is a little like playing H.O.R.S.E. with someone who can dunk.  It’s just not fair.

The Royals are the cotton candy of my childhood and all other Kansas City children of my generation.  You see it and immediately think, “That’s something I’d like.”  It’s a freaking sugar cloud on a stick. That’s downright magical.  So you shell out your $4 weekly allowance, tear into the cloud, and it’s alright for a very short while.  Ten minutes after receiving what you just couldn’t go without, you’re left with a stickiness on your cheeks, nose, and chin that’s just as completely unavoidable as it is impossible to scrub from your face.  Even wet washcloths do nothing.  That sticky feeling doesn’t go away, either, for two whole days.

However, this is my team.  This is a team I’ll not only like the rest of my life, but be die-hard for the rest of my life.  A person whose age was still in the single digits as he went to the ballpark to see George Brett, Frank White, and Bo Jackson play can’t simply walk away.  My friends are still surprised I enter each season with such enthusiasm when the Royals have provided such little reason for it.

There’s no time machine.

MY BEST OPENING DAY:  1991, Cleveland Indians at Kansas City Royals

“I think someone’s here to see you,” Mrs. Dagley said.

For an eight-year-old who just ran the obnoxiousness clear out of him on the playground, these were terrifying words.  My mother worked at the same school I attended, and if my second grade teacher was telling me Mom wanted to see me…I’d done something bad.  Didn’t know what yet, but bad.  Good as dead bad.

I looked up from the line to walk back inside for class, and my dad turned the corner of the school building.  Nah, that’s not him.  He works downtown in a suit and tie.  This man’s at Kearney Elementary at 11:00 a.m. in shorts and a polo shirt.

I ran up to solve this mystery only to find out in five short, glorious words, “We’re going to the ballgame.”  My first Opening Day.

As we walked back to Dad’s car, I remember thinking, “He even waited for recess to end!”

NO HOMERUNS, NO MATTER

The game wasn’t hugely exciting.  I was excellent at being a boy, and boys (especially ones who’ve gone six months without baseball) like home runs.  This was mostly a Bret Saberhagen pitching duel.  We sat in the upper deck, first base side.  I think we were too high up to get a foul ball, but I didn’t have my glove anyway.

The Royals won 4-2.  Awesome.

NO CYNICS

Die-hard fans aren’t cynics.  The wonderful thing about Opening Day is no one else is, either.

Zack Greinke is the second coming of Bob Feller.  Billy Butler’s bat is sometimes mistaken for Thor’s hammer.  Joakim Soria may never break a sweat.  If Gil Meche and Brian Bannister stay healthy, that’s a formidable rotation.  Luke Hochevar, Mitch Maier, and Mike Aviles are all poised for breakout years, and everyone knows the American League Central is the best division in the majors for an underdog to emerge.

You can’t tell me I’m wrong today.  The other 364 days out of the year, being a Royals fan is a trying thing.  Maybe not this year, though.

Today, we have a shot.

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One Response to “Of Opening Day And A Blessed Lack of Time Machines”

  1. Poker Buddy Says:

    Kathy Judy IS A SAINT! George Brett is not your father…but I am!

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