On Opening Day, Hope Springs Eternal

Finally, there’s a White House petition that I can get behind.

A campaign by Budweiser aims to make Major League Baseball’s Opening Day a national holiday. Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith is on board, serving as the campaign’s spokesperson.

There’s only one problem with all of this: I didn’t think of it. It’s not my fault though. I’m from Detroit.

You see, Detroiters don’t need the government to recognize Opening Day as a holiday, because we always have. Every year, more than 100,000 people take the day off, call in sick, play hooky and head to the heart of the Motor City to gather around a stadium that only holds 42,000. Why would they do such a mathematically implausible thing? To be part of the real first sign of spring: the first pitch of the MLB season, and all of the festivities surrounding it.

Neither rain nor snow will stop the real baseball fan from not working on Opening Day. And if the petition fails, that won’t stop fans from Detroit and other cities that take their baseball seriously. I’m looking at you St. Louis, Milwaukee, Cincinnati and Chicago.

(Sorry Boston — you beat my Tigers last year, so I can’t put you the short list.)

Where does this reverence for Opening Day come from? Maybe it has to do with bidding a long-awaited farewell to the gray, gloomy winter, and welcoming spring – that time of rebirth. Opening Day holds the potential that this year could finally be the “next year” we’ve all waited for.

It’s a fresh start, a clean slate. All of those times when we fell just short – or downright flopped — don’t matter. They’re in the past, where they belong. Now every team is on even ground (at least in the standings; Opening Day is no time to focus on large market vs. small market payroll disparities). The possibilities are endless. This new season is what you make it. Take a chance when they’re not expecting it. Stretch a single into a double. Play hard, play smart and the wins will follow — as will the good times and excitement. Make the most of your season. It starts today.

— P.J. Butland