Take me out the ballgame

It seems that at last, Opening Day for Major League Baseball has arrived. After the Reds’ premature exit from the playoffs last September, a disappointing fall when the local pseudo-professional National League Football team put on an impressive display of underachievement and spectacular failure, and a long cold winter, I’m thrilled to have finally reached the start of the 2011 campaign for our boys of summer.

You might think that my excitement is based on the team’s unexpected success last year, and you’d partially right. If you’re from Cincinnati, after last season you’d have to be either largely catatonic or wholly devoid of any love for baseball whatsoever – a.k.a., a communist – not to be looking forward to making another run at the NL Central championship this year. Still, it seems to me that even though I’ve been a fan of the Cincinnati Reds most of my life, for the past few years I’ve been taking the whole thing quite a bit more seriously.

Honestly, I’m not sure exactly why that is, but part of me thinks that it’s because I’m getting older. It’s like when a guy turns 35, he officially gets his Middle Aged Man consolation prize from the Bob Barker.

“Tell him what he’s taking home, Rod.”

“You got it, Bob. Our new 35 year-old tonight will be getting the complete Middle Aged Guy package. That includes a free, lifetime supply of Male Pattern Baldness, an explosion of disgusting hair growth everywhere BUT the top of the head, a Brand. New. Unavoidable Belly Paunch!, the inability to stay awake through a complete television show, a deeper appreciation for Major League Baseball, arguably the longest, slowest, and least cardiac-stressing major sport available today, plus, the perfect garden hose for those long hours spent working on the lawn. A lucky few contestants will also receive the need to pee every 10 minutes or the urge to sit with a group of gentlemen around a campfire with guitars while singing about erectile dysfunction pharmaceuticals.”

OK, maybe it’s not as bad as all that. Still, I definitely care more about baseball now than ever before in my life.

Of course, since I live in greater Cincinnati, home of the world’s first professional baseball team, Opening Day means something special. Around here, the day is an extra holiday wedged onto the calendar between St. Patrick’s Day and Easter. Admittedly, we’ll use just about any excuse we can to tap a keg and do some partying, but that’s neither here nor there. Yep, the whole place will be going nuts for the annual Opening Day parade and celebration.

Well, most of it, anyway. Not me; I’ll be at work.

Missing out on the Opening Day festivities this year is really a bit of a disappointment. Every year I think to myself, next year, buddy, next year you’ll do the parade and Fountain Square and the game and the whole bit. And each year…I don’t. My employer largely frowns on playing hooky to see baseball games, so I kind of feel like that kid that has to watch all his friends have great birthdays but never gets to have one of his own. No, either his Mom just refuses to allow merriment of any kind, or he had the misfortune of being born into a family that belongs to one of those no-day-is-any-different-from-any-other-day kind of religious sects where fun on a special occasion is apparently a guaranteed way to ignite the rage of a grumpy, vengeful God. Sure, the kid really, really wants to ask mom for a birthday cake, but he knows she’s just going to say, “Oh, sure, yeah, we’ll have some birthday cake and you can have a great big piece of that cake and then you can burn in the Lake of Fire for all eternity while your skin is flayed by flaming crows and your bones are crushed to powder daily and how’s that Damnation Cake taste now, little Jimmy!?”

Nobody wants to have to hear the Damnation Cake lecture again.

So I guess, next year, yeah, next year is the year I’ll finally do the whole Opening Day shebang.

Regardless, even missing the parade and partying, I’m thrilled that baseball season is finally here again. Hooray for spring!

It’s just in time to break out my perfect garden hose.

Pud’n

PS: Go Reds!

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