I used to have a tradition of going to every Minnesota Twins Opening Day game. It was a tradition that began in my youth, sometimes with my father, sometimes with friends, but always with my team. Without getting too sentimental about hope springing eternal, or stolen moments with those that are no longer with us, it was an excuse to see a baseball game—THE baseball game. Or, it was at least the first baseball game, and there was something special about being a part of what always seemed like a real event.
I know, especially at this stage in life, that Opening Day is really just another day, pomp and circumstance aside. Minus the revelry that accompanies the beginning of a new season, the first game is just another game, one of many that must be won en route to the playoffs. That is, assuming your team is the right combination of lucky and good.
It would be easy to say, oh, the Twins aren’t expected to be competitive in 2013, and that’s the reason you excitation is muted. Sure, that could be a part of it. Admittedly, it’s a lot harder to be jovial about the likes Trevor Ploufffe, Chris Parmelee, Pedro Florimon, and Opening Day starter Vance Worley than it was for Kirby Puckett, Gary Gaetti, Tom Brunansky and Frank Viola. No, fighting not to lose 100 games doesn’t carry the same weight as fighting for a World Series. However, winning and losing alone can’t explain why I can no longer muster the level of exhilaration I once seemed experience, even as recently as a few short seasons ago.
If I’m being completely honest, part of my malaise could potentially be traced to not having been gainfully employed since the summer of 2010. At first it was fan-goddamn-tastic, with a severance package that afforded me enough money to fill all my newfound leisure time with as much baseball as one could possibly hope for. But that money didn’t last forever, and neither did the good times. I thought finding a job would be as easy as it was a decade ago, especially with more than eight years of additional work experience and glowing recommendations from my former employers. Alas, that wasn’t the case. That still isn’t the case. Today, rather than having a job that affords me the creature comforts I desire, I struggle from day to day to pay bills I can, and set aside those that I can’t.
I’ve made every effort to stay ahead of creditors, but not always to the satisfaction of all. All the while I’ve also tried to stay on top of my passion for baseball. However, due to my hectic work schedule, one the requires I work until 5 or 6 AM at times, I seem less able (or inclined) to keep up with my swelling collection of books to be read, games to be watched, and blogs to be written. I had to make a choice between writing for two reputable fantasy sports sites and going back to school for a certification in project management, a decision I assumed could only help build my resume. Sadly, this did little to advance my career. All it did was squeeze one more drop of satisfaction from my life’s endeavors, leaving the remaining cup less than half-full, and reminding me that the cost of living is often far more expensive than anything with a dollar sign attached.
I miss Kirby Puckett. Hell, I miss John Castino. I miss being able to wake up and look forward to perusing box scores in some discarded newspaper I found on the Blue Line on my way to work. I miss the importance of Opening Day, even knowing that it’s mostly a mirage. But mostly, I miss waking up and looking forward to something in my day. I miss baseball.