I have always believed that Opening Day should be a national holiday and I have treated it as such. If it falls on a weekday I will take the day off from work. It is a magical time where every baseball team and every baseball fan has a new beginning. For many fans it may be the only day where your favorite team is in first place. It is not just the game that makes Opening Day special; it is a reminder that no matter how badly things in our life have gone in the past, we can all start new.
Opening Day and spring have so much in common. Baseball like the planet awakens after a long dormant and dark off-season and shows off the promise that the year will bring. It sets the stage for what many hope will be a bountiful harvest come fall.
In years past Opening Day has meant waking up early, preparing for the day dressed in your favorite team’s jersey then making your way to the ballpark. Once inside you gaze in wonderment at the bunting and pageantry that makes up the beginning of baseball season.
This year was quite different. While the Arizona Diamondbacks begin the season with two home games those games are not at Chase Field in sunny Phoenix Arizona. Instead the team has travelled 7,792 miles to host the Los Angeles Dodgers at the Sydney Cricket Grounds in Sydney Australia.
The game was scheduled to start at 7 PM local time in Sydney meaning that it would be shown live on television at 1 AM Phoenix time. I have always had trouble sleeping the night before Opening Day. With all the excitement I would lay awake thinking about everything the upcoming season could hold. So the early morning game here was perfect. Now instead of staring at the clock wishing it would move quicker to bring baseball season sooner, I simply had to flip channels.
I must admit, hearing the Diamondbacks public address announcer doing player introductions at a home game half a world away was much like having an out-of-body experience. It felt like a dream even though I knew it was real. About all that was missing was walking towards a light finding paradise, which in my case would be baseball 24 hours a day ever day of eternity.
I sat and watched as the Diamondbacks played the Los Angeles Dodgers wishing I was there but grateful I didn’t have to be on an airplane 22 hours to get to the game. For Diamondbacks fans the game did not go as well as they would have hoped. Clayton Kershaw pitched a gem and the Diamondbacks were only able to scrape together one run losing 3-1. Despite the loss, it still felt good that baseball was back.
In Australia game 2 of the season would be on the afternoon of Sunday March 23 but in Arizona that game would be played Saturday night meaning we actually would have two games on the same day. This was the ultimate day/night doubleheader if there ever was on.
The Arizona Diamondbacks refer to themselves as one of the most fan-friendly teams in sports and I would agree with that assessment. While the team was in another hemisphere they wanted their Season Ticket Holders to be a part of the action. They held an Australian viewing party at Chase Field allowing people to come into the stadium and watch game 2 on dbTV.
After a long off-season the only time I had been able to enter Chase Field was for FanFest. It was exciting to walk through the turnstiles again to see a baseball game. Of course it was strange that the field was empty while the game was going on at the Sydney Cricket Grounds.
Despite a late offensive burst the Diamondbacks lost again to the Dodgers. I know I should be depressed at the team going 0-2 in less than 24 hours but I couldn’t help being grateful that baseball is back and there are still 160 games to look forward to. That is the positive power of Opening Day.