Opening Day: Baseball’s Auld Lang Syne

Hall of Famer Ernie Banks always gave long-suffering Chicago Cubs fans a reason to be optimistic on opening day.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

For baseball fans, hearing the words “Play Ball!” on Opening Day is about as joyous as watching the Big Ball drop from the Manhattan skyline on Times Square at midnight every New Year’s Day. It’s the collective shout of Happy New Year! for baseball fans every year with the noisemakers being the crack of the bat or the emphatic pop  of a 95-mile an hour fastball into a catcher’s mitt.

With the new season on the horizon, fans of even the worse teams in baseball are singing, “Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot and Auld lang syne.” It’s absolution from the past season’s sins and a resolution to be even better.

Opening Day for a lot of teams around major league baseball is the time that they make their New Year’s resolutions for the upcoming season. The Baltimore Orioles would resolve to climb out of the American League East cellar and not lose 93 games as the way they did in 2011. The Philadelphia Phillies are hoping the new season will end with their first World Series title since 2008 after disappointing ends to their last three post season appearances.

In St. Louis, the Cardinals are hoping they can somehow win another World Series crown despite the loss of superstar first baseman Albert Pujols.

The Washington Nationals, with a rejuvenated Stephen Strasburg, have hopes of ending the Phillies reign in the National League East as do the Miami Marlins with their new skipper Ozzie Guillen and All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes.

And like some of our bold declarations of losing weight, drinking less, or being better husbands and wives, the promise of Opening Day will be lost in the inevitable ups and downs of the long season. For some teams, the optimism of spring will be burned out by a long hot summer and their pennant dreams will fade like a Raisin in the Sun and will be a dream deferred until next year.

Other teams will see the dream within their grasp only to have it whither away in the cool winds of September and October. At the end of the day, only one team will be able to pop the bubbly and celebrate the promise of Opening Day.

And that’s what we truly love about baseball, especially at this time of the year. It’s a reminder that both good and bad times aren’t forever and that there’s always hope that things will be better no matter what has happened the previous year.

In the course of our mundane lives, we celebrate New Years Day with the pomp and circumstance of fireworks, champagne and pickled herring because we believe that no matter how much we have screwed up during the year, things will get better.

When January 1 hits, it’s our chance to start all over again and to hopefully get things going on the right foot. Maybe we go on a winning streak where we have a few more dollars in our pocket or maybe our dream of getting that promotion finally comes to fruition.

But just like that 162-game baseball season, things happen and it doesn’t necessarily go your way. Things that you just can’t control can complicate your circumstances. For a lot of us just being able to stay in the Pennant Race of Life is a victory in itself.

Baseball’s Opening Day and New Year’s Day are like an annual baptism. It is a chance for us and our favorite teams to reborn and renewed in the spirit of all that is good.

While we and the teams we root for often come up short of the glory, the new year and the new season is a reminder we always have a chance to make things right.

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