Big day. Huge day. Important day. Opening Day in baseball. As should always be the case, the NCAA championship game is tonight as well. You may recall my suggested sports calendar last fall required baseball beginning the day college basketball ended. And just for the cultural reference freaks out there, it’s the 10th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death. I’ve got a lot to work through here, without even touching what I’ve compiled over the last two weeks. Here goes.
Opening Day just ain’t what it used to be. Games in Japan, Sunday night ESPN openers. Maybe it’s living in a non-MLB city, but I didn’t wake up thinking, “Wow, it’s opening day!” this morning. Still, even if your favorite sport isn’t baseball, there’s something special about MLB opening day that’s unlike any other sport. It’s the symbolic beginning of spring, the gateway to summer nights sitting in front of a radio listening to the scores coming in from the West Coast. In the sport that is the least generous with postseason opportunities, Opening Day is the single time when fans of every team can hope for October glory. Now that I’m into my 30s, Opening Day is the slightest bit bittersweet. Instead of appreciating the amazing level of play, unequaled quality of ballparks, or unrivaled access to games for the casual fan, I look back longingly on the glory days of my youth in the late 70s and early 80s when I knew almost every player on every roster. My summers were spent carefully allotting time to reading the box scores, sorting my baseball cards, playing Coleco Head-to-Head baseball, playing any number of backyard versions of baseball, then watching/listening to games that night. The game seemed simpler, more pure, more romantic then. It’s always easy to forget that in addition to all the changes in the game, it’s really the massive changes in my life since I was 10 that make the game different.
Two suggestions to baseball: A) With the exception of teams that play in completely closed domes or the states of Florida, Georgia, Texas, Arizona, and Southern California, all games the first two weeks of April should be played during the day. No one goes to the games after opening day anyway, why not give the players and the 2,000 people who come out a break and play in the daylight hours to avoid wind chills in the teens? Just a thought. B) The alternate jersey thing is completely out of control. I demand a rule that only one team should wear their alternate jersey in a given game. Last week, the Orioles and Mets played a preseason game and each squad wore orange jerseys. Isn’t the whole point of jerseys so you can quickly tell which team is in the field and which team is batting? I had no idea who was doing what when I saw highlights of the game. Home team should have first call on jerseys, and if they wear something dark, the visiting team should have to wear their light tops.
I’m really concerned that so many of the Royals’ hopes rely on Juan Gonzalez’s health and happiness. In the last year of the Carlos Beltran era, this could be the last opportunity for the Royals to play in October for a few years. I hope Juan doesn’t start pouting in July or strain some muscle none of us have ever heard of in August and derail the Royals’ pennant run.
I like UConn tonight, not because I harbor any ill will towards Georgia Tech for beating KU, but because I don’t think Tech will be able to control Emeka Okufor. And yes, I puked when I read the article last week saying Okufor’s father had called the KU coaching staff two times to request they scout young Emeka when he was in high school and Roy Williams never responded. I know you can’t just plug Emeka in and keep everything else that happened the last three years exactly the same, but imagine for a minute him in the same rotation as Drew Gooden, Nick Collison, and Wayne Simien over those seasons. All that desire to win the national championship that Roy has in his little finger might have been quenched.
Cobain killed himself ten years ago today, but it wasn’t until April 8 that his body was found. I remember getting home from work on April 8, 1994, laying on my bed reading a book about the ills of college basketball recruiting, and noticing my radio, which I could barely hear, seemed to have an endless stream of talk and very little music. I leaned over, turned it up, and heard the news. I can’t say I was devastated or even shocked. In fact, initially, I’m embarrassed that I was excited because now our generation had our musical martyr. I wasn’t a huge fan of Nirvana at the time, leaning more towards the more accessible songs of Pearl Jam from the beginning. I wasn’t some angst ridden kid who never felt comfortable outside my insulated group of friends who experienced similar pains. I had a pretty good life. Cobain’s pain always seemed first person, which was uncomfortable to someone who hadn’t endured anything worse than a couple bad breakups in 23 years of living. Eddie Vedder’s pain always seemed third person and fictional, something I could listen to and understand from afar. It wasn’t until much later that I appreciated what Cobain was singing about, not because of any personal experiences, but more from the maturity that allowed me to take in the perspectives of others. As I grew to appreciate Cobain’s influences, his music made more and more sense to me. Now, I think he was a genius, at least with a guitar and a notebook. The 90s alternative rock revolution was a truly great time for music, and no one reached the heights that Cobain and Nirvana reached. I don’t think things would have been different if he had lived. Perhaps Nirvana would have released another great album or two, but nothing that would have altered the musical landscape. They did it once, the movement had been unleashed, and regardless of their future success, it was destined to die out right around the time it did fade away in 1996-7.
How to handle a time change properly: We drove to St. Louis Saturday for a wedding and gained an hour. We drove home Sunday and made no changes to our watches. Not bad. I will complain, though, about having to revamp my life again. I’m back to starting work at the same time as my compatriots in Kansas City. That extra hour in the morning was kind of nice. The sun is hitting our windows at 6:20 AM or so. All my meetings that are scheduled weekly are suddenly an hour earlier. Sigh.
The little girlfriend has been going nuts. Saturday night, S. described the movements as “flips” and when I put my hand on her stomach, there was some serious activity going on. Last night, we decided to follow the guide books and listen to some classical music to stimulate the math part of her little brain. Immediately, her level of activity increased greatly. So she’s either going to be very good at math, or she really wanted me to switch back to the Old School Rap channel I had been parked on earlier.