Opening Day Turns Back The Clock

By Don Wade

If this column had a warning label, it would read as follows: “Do not take on an empty stomach, may cause nostalgia. Do not take if obsessed with Blake Griffin dunking over a car, may cause drowsiness.”

You know where this is headed, right? It’s almost Opening Day and I’m one of those insufferable middle-aged guys who believes the real New Year starts with the first pitch and not with the clock striking midnight in the dead of winter.

I’m even willing to trade today for yesterday. You can have Twitter, Facebook, HD and my precious iPhone and I’ll take a ticket to a Sunday doubleheader, Curt Gowdy and Tony Kubek doing the Game of the Week in fuzzy black and white, and a player to be named later who, more likely than not, will turn out to be Harry Chiti, a backup catcher traded for himself between the Mets and Indians in 1962 (and yes, you can win a bar bet with this).

I love baseball and I make no apologies for it.

Is it slow? Sure, but if we both think real hard I bet we can think of other things that can be slow but worth the time (I meant walks on the beach and classic old movies, not sure where your mind was).

Point is, sports, like anything else, needs good pacing. It can’t be fast and hyped-up all the time. That just leaves you in a mind-numbing blur. Which reminds me, does anybody ever again need to hear Chris Berman say, “He … could … go … all … the ... way!”

Confession: I’ll listen to Cardinals broadcaster Mike Shannon on the radio. And yes, part of the fun is the Shannonisms, the anticipation of him saying, “It’s raining like a Chinese fire drill!” Or telling you there is a full moon in Pittsburgh and he hopes there is a full moon wherever you are.

But it’s more than that. It’s also the chance to use your imagination, to draw the details of 6-4-3 double play or a steal of third base. Baseball, for me at least, still offers moments of pure escape, moments when I forget myself and could be 10 again and have my own game to play later in the week, a cold off-brand soda with my name on it even if I strike out.

Baseball’s back.

And though I don’t look it, I do feel younger.

Don Wade is a native of Kansas City and a former feature writer for The Kansas City Star and sports reporter for The Commercial Appeal. His column appears weekly in The Daily News and The Memphis News.