The majesty of The Masters. The hype of March Madness. The pageantry of College Football. For all the waxing prose spent on key sporting events, none have gotten more love than baseball’s Opening Day. It’s when all teams still have a chance at going 162-0. For Northern cities, it’s the signal of the end of the lousy weather (in theory, though seldom in practice) and the return of outdoor living. It’s a day of hope. Blah blah blah.

Purple prose notwithstanding, I truly love Opening Day. I fall for the sentimental crap and feel the renewal after another harsh winter. Pre-pandemic, it would also mean that I would likely be visiting some warm weather cities and catching some April baseball. (I prefer my baseball to not require full winter gear; I’m a huge fan, but not an idiot.)

I’m been to 21 Opening Days in my life. 4 in Miami. 3 in Atlanta. 2 in San Francisco. One each in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Texas, Houston, San Diego, and Oakland. I’ve been to 4 in my old hometown of Toronto, all indoors. And despite my allegiances, I’ve only seen the Tigers’ home opener once, and never one at Wrigley Field —– see weather statement above.

It feels odd this year not to be on a partially-sponsored trip on which I would catch a few Opening Week games. Like many, my employment situation changed thanks to COVID and my new gig pays less and doesn’t involve travel. Also, I don’t finish my vaccination until mid-April. But in reality, I hardly feel compelled to spend the money to go to games in sparsely attended ballparks. A full house makes a huge difference with live sports, and I can’t see a live ballgame being the same great experience without the packed house buzz. I may grab a Foam Dome, and a bag of peanuts and watch on TV to partially replicate it, but truly look forward to days of full ballparks and packed bars.

Which is not to say that I won’t be at a ballpark all season. I fully intend to catch a series at the new ballpark in Texas (ED NOTE: since done; click here for the review). I regret that I can’t make Opening Day since I’ve managed to be at the stadium openers for 3 of the last 6 parks to open (Marlins, Nationals and Braves) and the second game ever in the Phillies’ Citizen’s Bank Ballpark, the Mets’ Citi Field and the Twins’ Target Field. But barring another major outbreak, it looks like the Rangers are being pretty liberal with their attendance, which means Texas may be the only place in the country to feel like real Major League Baseball.

At least we hope. And isn’t hope what Opening Day is really all about?