It’s April 1st.
Technically, it is April Fool’s Day, but really it’s not.
It’s Opening Day.
The Boys of Summer make their return in cities across the country today, but I don’t care about them. I care about the Phillies. I care about Springtime. I care that this morning I woke up feeling like I was about to be reunited with a long-missed family member, because that’s essentially what is happening when Cole Hamels takes the mound tonight as I watch from a bar in North Philadelphia.
I know that for some, baseball season has already started. My fantasy team already has two homeruns (Thanks Bryce Harper!) and the Houston Astros have already won a game, something it feels like they haven’t done in ten months rather than just six. But for me, Baseball begins and ends with the Philadelphia Phillies.
In 2010, I and two of my best friend’s (Sarah and Ray) played hookie and went to the Phillies Home Opener. We got to the the ballpark two hours early, I got interviewed by Philly.com and I got to tell them how excited I was to have Placido Polonco on my fantasy team (it was a different time). I was wearing my Cole Hamels shirt, the spoils of a previous best friend baseball affair at which vertically-challenged Sarah was able to convince the people working the gate that she was only 12 years old and thus eligible for one of the free shirts being given away to young fans that day. It is probably still one of the four largest sins that she has committed in her life, but I could be wrong.
We entered the Citizens Bank Park a little over an hour before the game, in order to ensure we’d get our money’s worth from out of the Standing Room Only tickets we’d bought online. Before we claimed our territory in front of the kielbasa stand outside Section 131, we made our way to the field and I began to eagerly talk baseball with our new best friend, Jerry the Right Field Security Guard in a futile attempt to convince him to let me onto the field so I could touch the grass.
This moment is probably one of the happiest moments that is captured on film, with the exception of this video which will always hold the number one spot.
It was probably during the happiest two-month span of my life. I was graduating high school, in love, and it was springtime. Everything was easy, at least that’s how I remember it.
When I began writing this, I had to Google what the final score was. We came from behind to beat the Nationals 7-4 after a 5 run fifth inning. Part of me was disappointed that I didn’t have those numbers implanted into my long term memory. But I’ll be able to Google that information twenty years from now.
I can’t Google the conversation I had with Jerry the Right Field Security Guard. Well, now that I’m writing this, I might be able to, but I think you get what I mean, and if you don’t then here it is:
Baseball is about more than numbers, whether those numbers be wins or losses, ERA or batting average, WAR or xFIP. While those numbers help people understand and predict and value quality within Baseball, they have nothing to do with the reason that it’s important.
Baseball is beautiful because of the hope of the unknown. I have no idea what will happen this season, but I am sure that something will happen.
Maybe Chooch will save the day with a ridiculous throw to second to catch Bryce Harper stealing and the home crowd will go nuts. Maybe Cole Hamels will take a Perfect Game into the 8th inning and we’ll end up cheering him through an absolutely brilliant complete game No Hitter instead. Maybe we’ll win the World Series.
But tonight I’m not worried about that at all. Tonight I’m just happy to see my family again. Jimmy, Ryan, Chase, Chooch, Cole, Doc, Cliff, and of course my boy John Mayberry.
I missed you guys. I can’t wait to spend the summer with you.