Opening Day is upon us

Bob Levey

It's here. It's finally here.

Sunshine. Hope. Green grass. The National Anthem. Sunflower seeds.

Every holiday has memories and traditions associated with it. Christmas has presents, the tree, lights, good cheer and peace on Earth. Thanksgiving has the turkey, a table weighted down with platters of food, yellowed leaves, and family. July 4th has fireworks, a summer day that never seems to end, the aroma of barbecue's hanging in the warm air, and Bill Pullman's iconic speech.

Perfectly raked dirt. Walk up songs. Beer vendors. Cotton candy.

I watched Texas face off against Houston in Minute Maid Park last night. It's weird seeing the Astros in their new uniforms, playing with a DH. The first pitch was a 92 mile per hour fastball, right down the middle from some guy named Bud Norris. It feels very appropriate that a person named "Bud" is starting the first game for the Astros. The Rangers won 93 games last year; the Astros won 55. Despite this, the Astros won 8 to 2. They lead the league in runs scored, batting average, slugging percentage, on base percentage, and fielding percentage.

Pristine uniforms. Hot dogs. The crack of the bat. Take me out to the ballgame.

The Colorado Rockies kick off their season in Milwaukee, on April Fools Day. Everyone is healthy. Todd Helton has been scorching the ball this spring. Wilin Rosario and Troy Tulowitzki have been hitting moon shots. The pitching has been...variable. Most prognosticators have been predicting the Rockies to finish last in the NL West. Last year most prognosticators also predicted the Orioles and Athletics would finish last in their divisions.

Box scores. Pine tar. White chalk. The rosin bag.

Opening Day is a line in the sand. The endless months of trades, free agent signings, predictions, rankings, analysis, and talking talking talking are finally over. The games are real now; the players have the power, not the prognosticators. All the cliches now apply: put up or shut up. Any given day. Leave it all on the field.

Dirty uniforms. Jump throws. Sliders in the dirt. Borderline strikes.

Everyone starts at zero. The Rockies are currently in a 5-way tie for first in the division. They are also in a 5-way tie for last. It's a fresh start. What will they do with it? Will they let the Giants continue running rough-shod over the NL West? Will they let the Dodgers buy a world championship? Will they allow sportswriters to sneer at their roster, and predict they will lose 109 games? We don't know. The odds are long. But that doesn't matter anymore. It's Opening Day.

Fastballs on the corner. The two strike approach. Fly balls in the gaps. Play ball.

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