A day that tranforms a cynic into an optimist
Rather than spew my usual pessimistic rant about sports, this week’s column will be all goodness and light. No, I haven’t had a brain transplant or gone soft or fallen in love. I’m still the same bitter dude you’ve come to know over the past four months. Whew!
It’s just that the sun is shining, the daylight lasts until past 7 p.m. and it’s the annual Greatest Day in Sports. Even I can’t manage to work up a good scowl on such a fine day and I spent two hours standing in line at the DMV.
Is there a more perfect convergence on the sports calendar than the NCAA championship game and baseball’s Opening Day? The culmination of the best postseason in sports combined with the start of baseball season: That’s the beginning of spring for the sane folks who don’t pay attention to equinoxes or tidal charts or weathermen. It’s not spring if the Giants and A’s aren’t playing real games and winter doesn’t end until “One Shining Moment” is ringing in our ears.
Sure, there were official baseball games played before Monday’s traditional Cubs-Reds opener. I stayed up to watch the first pitch of the epic Yankees-Devil Rays sushi-flavored game last week and glanced over my shoulder occasionally to see the Red Sox and Orioles on Sunday night.
But there’s a difference between the first official game and Opening Day. The former is a matter of semantics, while the latter is a time of hope and revival (except in Milwaukee, where it’s a time to argue about whom the Packers should draft). On Opening Day the sun is always shining, your number-one starter is on the hill and everyone starts the day in first place.
So it’s not a day to decry the death of tradition as the season begins in Japan, not even to excoriate commissioner Bud Selig for doing his damndest to ruin the game he claims to love so much. You won’t hear a peep from me about the overblown steroid controversy or the media’s unfair vilification of Barry Bonds. This is a great day, dammit, and I won’t have it spoiled by my own cynicism and sense of outrage.
I’m off to watch the Giants-Astros, followed closely by the NCAA final. See you in a few hours …
… I’m back. Between watching Barry go deep and the Giants pull out a tough win and seeing Connecticut take apart Georgia Tech, it’s been a full evening. The final started as the baseball game entered the seventh inning, which caused enough channel switching to blow my television’s circuits.
I did manage to catch Barry tying the game with a three-run bomb and UConn hitting a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer, as well as Matt Herges putting down the Astros in the ninth inning, not to mention the tail-end of the A’s opener. Now that’s a little bit of sports-fan heaven.
Heckfire, this whole week is shaping up to be awesome. Baseball will be on all week long. The hardest-working postseason in sports, the NHL playoffs, kick off on Wednesday, and the Masters will start on Thursday for those more pastorally inclined. You wouldn’t catch me dead watching televised golf, but I’m feeling pretty generous toward the fringe “sports” today. Bring on yachting! What channel is figure skating on?
– Tribune staff writer Jared Green can be reached at (530) 542-8008 or firstname.lastname@example.org