What does an Atlanta Braves' Opening Day game mean to you? Curveball incoming…what if I said for me it is about choice?
I’ve heard stories of people only listening on radio because that’s what they experienced with a loved one that has passed. Maybe you know of someone that shares it with a child and is starting their own family tradition. Either way, it can clearly be meaningful to so many.
I would be lying if I said it has some specific, material meaning for me, or that it holds some historical placeholder in my 30 years of fandom. I don’t have a grandfather that made sure I skipped school to see Maddox, Smoltz, or Glavine. I don’t have a mom that would wake me up screaming that baseball was finally here. The fact of the matter is, if I’m being honest, I don’t remember much about any Braves opening days (going to sit you to the side on this one Jason Heyward).
As the reader, I can see you clamoring for more about how much I am not attached to Opening Day (insert “lol”). The truth is, I may be more attached than anyone I’ve ever met. Not in any sort of competitive way, but more like an, I just seem to care way too much about what one silly game means kind of way.
It’s so easy in this crazy life to get swept away in the bad. Bills, burdens, tragedy….there are certain constants we can’t avoid. It can be a perpetual reminder of how sad you need to be. WHY AREN’T YOU SAD?
But what if I told you there are similar constants when it comes to being joyful. And what if I told you, I think, that Opening Day is one of them. Maybe you can look in the mirror on Thursday and ask WHY AREN’T YOU HAPPY?
Opening Day is symbolic to me. I don’t have the real life attachment that I can see and touch like some, as mentioned previously. However, the accompanying emotions are certainly real. It signifies new beginnings. It signifies hope. It signifies joy. It signifies love, though it may be an odd sort of love…who am I kidding…my love for Max Fried is real and I don’t care what you say.
What is true joy and success if they weren’t preceded by hope? The cruel nature of sports tends to make sure that type of hope ends in hurt, but you couldn’t tell me that in 2021. It made it all worth it. I guess the point is to choose hope and choose joy at times like this because hey, who knows what’s on the other side.
I’ll leave you with this. Don’t let the significance and symbolism of Opening Day be lost on you. We put so much energy and negativity into this team that we tend to forget the fulfillment it ultimately gives us. I challenge you to forget about OPS for a bit. I challenge you to ignore how mad some egg on Twitter/Facebook makes you when they inevitably say we will miss the playoffs after the Braves give up the first run.
As for me, I’ll be watching with my three year old son, and thinking about my daughter that is due in a couple of months. Maybe I’ll have my own tradition. Or maybe I’ll just try to be present and think about how grateful I am for these days and how grateful I am for this team. This team that acts as a catalyst for so many amazing things in my life.
So when the Braves inevitably go through that five game losing streak in the summer, try to latch on to these feelings. Try to latch on to these moments. Remember what Thursday can TRULY mean.
Here’s to symbolism. Here’s to choosing joy. Here’s to choosing hope. Here’s to new beginnings. Here’s to us Braves Country. Let’s enjoy the hell out of it.