Editor's Note: Major League Baseball opened its season April 6, so this week we asked a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals and a fan of the Chicago Cubs, arch rivals in the National League Central division, to offer their reflections on Opening Day.
Out of the Cold, a Need for Closure
By Matthew Melick
I woke up on Opening Day dreading the thirty degree temperatures and snow that had pushed into St. Louis the night before. But I knew that these temperatures were short-lived—it was baseball season. Each spring in the Midwest, Opening Day—as all the great baseball writers have written—signals an end to the cold and darkness. As a Cardinal fan, Opening Day usually means two things—the natural beauty of spring and its longer, warmer days will be arriving shortly, and Cub fans can be excited about their team’s prospects for a couple weeks.
But this year, it is our turn to be excited, hopefully for more than a couple weeks. This is the year the Cardinals take back the Central, the year they come up with an answer in the bullpen. In 2008, the Cardinals blew a Major League-leading 31 saves and somehow still managed to finish just four games out of the wild-card. But that was last year. This year, the Cardinals have a great new closer and all of the problems of last year (and the year before) were just that, problems in the past. Right? For some reason (probably like most Cardinal fans), on Opening Day 2009 I had an uneasy feeling about the prospects of a bullpen anchored by a former catcher with only eleven prior Major League appearances.
Unfortunately, my feelings were validated—so much for change. So much for the chance to be hopeful about your favorite team’s prospects. Opening Day 2009 will forever be imprinted in my memory as the day I learned that one team can have two blown saves in one game.
Yet at the end of the day, somehow, hope had returned. It is spring, things change and grow, it is just a slow process. That is perhaps the best part about Opening Day. If your team wins—“awesome, this is the year”; if your team loses—“oh well, it is early.”
October Doesn't Care
By Bryan Timm
As a Cubs fan, I have come to a realization that is going to make this season a little different from those past. October just does not care.
October doesn't care about Opening Day. October doesn't care about players being tired from the World Baseball Classic. She doesn't care about signing a fiery right fielder or about the struggles from an imported center fielder. She doesn't care about the Houston Astros looking for some semblance of revenge for what Carlos Zambrano did to them after Hurricane Ike devastated Texas.
I encourage Chicago Cubs fans to ignore all the columnists, talking heads and any other random idiot trying to make a case for caring this early. It doesn't matter to me anymore, and it shouldn't matter to you. The only thing that matters is what the Cubs do once the season changes from summer to fall and the playoffs arrive.
I understand the excitement surrounding Opening Day because I feel it too. The prospect of sitting outside with a cold beer in my hand listening to Pat and Ron call a game is just as attractive to me this year as it has been in years past. But this year has to be different. It has to be.
The Boys in Blue may get off to a fast start and run away with the division. They may struggle early and have to hold off the Cardinals down the stretch to get in. But barring some sort of insane string of injuries, the Cubs are going to win the division, probably quite easily. So while I may be yelling at the television in May because Kosuke Fukudome misplayed a fly ball, resulting in a Cubs loss, it will be a reserved yell. Because quite simply, October just does not care.
Matthew Melick is an associate attorney at Carmody MacDonald P.C. in St. Louis, Missouri.
Bryan Timm is a cross country and track coach at Rosary High School in Aurora, Illinois.