This is it. Tonight is the night we’ve been waiting for since October. Opening Night. Nearly six months since a meaningful baseball game has been played. And tonight, with one beautiful pitch thrown by Andrew Cashner at 5:05 or so, it will be baseball season for the San Diego Padres again.
Cashner will be throwing against the dreaded Los Angeles Dodgers, the most expensive team in baseball. But once they step on the field, it doesn’t matter if a player is making 25 million dollars a year or 2% of that. It will be team against team, pitcher against hitter, man against man. And we will be watching. And rooting for our team.
Four-seamers, sliders, changeups, slurves.
Jumping on the first pitch, trying to work the walk, swinging hard on 2-0 counts, hitting the ball to the right side to advance the runner, shortening up the swing with two strikes.
Studying the pitcher’s motion, taking a lead, breaking for second on the first move home.
Shifting a step or two to the opposite field once the batter has two strikes, hitting the cutoff man, deciding before the play which base to throw to, knowing the runner’s speed and putting a little extra juice on your throw to first.
Deciding whether to buy your tickets online or go down to the box office to avoid the fees, enjoying the curves and beautiful trees of Balboa Park as you cruise down the 163, handing your ticket to the smiling attendant and being handed whatever they happen to be giving away today.
Finding your seats and thinking “hey, these are pretty good”, starting a conversation with the older guy sitting behind you and hoping he has some good baseball stories to tell, cheering and high-fiving strangers when your team scores.
Clearing your schedule, sitting in your favorite recliner, grabbing your preferred snack and beverage, catching the pregame show.
Feeling optimistic when that first pitch is strike one, clapping your hands when your first runner reaches base, yelling out loud in your empty apartment when they put a crooked number on the scoreboard, enjoying everything in the day just a little more after a win.
Everything is ok now. It’s baseball season.