An Ode to Opening Day During Our Nation's Prolonged Silence

Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees Opening Day 2019
Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees Opening Day 2019 / Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

It's awfully difficult to lose a national holiday.

I'm not angered or befuddled; I'm in complete understanding as to why MLB Opening Day was another necessary casualty in our ongoing and terrifying fight with an invisible enemy, one which will only touch more and more of our lives with each passing day.

I'm also well aware that there are more prudent concerns in play than when ball will again strike Louisville Slugger, and when powdery fastball will again return with a crack to its leathery home.

But for baseball devotees like me, this is the one day on the calendar that marks a shared sense of normalcy, and a brief return to unified hope. Everyone is 0-0. Every city has yet to be defeated.

It's not about the game's result, and it never has been (as a Yankee fan, I feel safe saying this, considering by unofficial count, my team is 1-29 on Opening Day in my lifetime). It's about the season's quick change, not yet cemented by the weather, but coming sooner than you believe it to be. It's about renewal and investment in your community.

Most importantly, though, it's about the crowd, which is the reason why it's been taken away from us.

Opening Day has always persisted, during wartime and tragedy, but never before has the necessary uniter been the outright necessity to keep ourselves separate, far away from the people and things we love by formal decree. You and I, we have never seen this before. It remains difficult to mentally justify the steps we're taking, simply because we've never encountered a problem that can be solved by them. We've never entered a grieving process without an end date.

Rob Manfred assured us all in an interview on Wednesday night that baseball will indeed be back, and it will be front of mind whenever a genuine national recovery effort can take place safely. By the way those in charge are speaking about the game, they certainly understand its importance, and I believe they'll do everything they can in good faith to play some semblance of a 2020 season, if at all possible.

Because, while baseball isn't the only thing we're losing out on while locked away in the places we once considered bastions of relaxation, it's a uniquely American coping mechanism that usually serves us well in the wake of attacks by unfamiliar foes. This time, however, we don't need a show of solidarity to prove to the virus it can't hurt us. We need to be out of the public eye, persisting in small family units, or alone, reliving the recent past.

But for every five-year-old (and five-year-old at heart), rest assured the game will return, and the twinkle hiding way down deep in the cavernous area beyond your eye will reemerge. Today, we relive and we bemoan. But on a tomorrow that seems hard to reach, but will reach us before we know it, one will become two, will become four, will become 45,000 of us in pockets, screaming when called upon, and silencing ourselves only in the contemplative moments between reflexive bursts. The game will be back, but it's alright to grieve even the small losses, when we'd all give anything for a loss or a win on what's supposed to be Day One of a brand new status quo.