“A New Day”
Opening Day is here once again.
Thirty fan bases have a reason for hope. Many down-on-their-luck franchises have a reason to believe that this season might represent something a little bit different. Reality will set in for most teams within a few short weeks, but, for now, everyone can enjoy the first day playing for what counts.
For me, the 150-plus-year tradition never gets old. Baseball was America’s first real game. Back in the days when Ellis Island flooded with boats from every end of the world, the young immigrants settled into the hellish streets and poor neighborhoods, and were often brought together by a common love for throwing a ball and swinging a bat.
Though those days may be long gone and baseball has been replaced in the American sports hierarchy by football, the yearly thirst for a throwback to the old days has never waned. Opening Day was and absolutely still is a powerful tradition.
This year is different than recent history. You won’t find the Yankees and Red Sox anywhere near the top of preseason rankings, in the AL or in their own division. The Phillies may be over the hill. Even the Texas Rangers may have finally lost one free agent too many. In their place, teams like the upstart Washington Nationals and the old-school, defending champion San Francisco Giants seem to be the favorites.
While the last team standing is certainly the most important aspect of every season, fans everywhere are looking forward to another storyline involving the next generation of the game.
Last season, two outstanding rookies name Mike Trout and Bryce Harper stunned the baseball landscape with levels of play that so far outperformed their age. Trout, who at age 21 is only a year older than Harper, had one of the better seasons you will ever see—dazzling in center field while batting .326 with 30 HR and 49 stolen bases in just 139 games. Detroit Tigers star
Miguel Cabrera edged out Trout for the AL MVP, but only by becoming the first player in 45 years to win the Triple Crown.
Meanwhile, Harper held his own with a .270 average, 22 HR, 59 RBI’s and 18 stolen bases in his rookie campaign. Harper isn’t quite as far along as Trout, but the flashes he showed and the way he changed the culture in Washington by helping the city to its
first postseason berth since 1933 certainly bodes well for his future.
There are whispers among baseball purists and casual fans alike that Trout and Harper may be starting an era between themselves unmatched by any two players since Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams. That’s some pretty high class company. Their story will be among the many baseball fans have to look forward to heading into Opening Day. But with another season set to begin, hope truly springs eternal in some way for every team. Enjoy it while it lasts.