Thursday, April 7, 2016

Break Out The Bunting

George and I were discussing what the plan was for Opening Day tomorrow, as we usually do since we've attended Opening Day I believe 10 out of the past 12 seasons, and he asked me what time to meet out at Citi Field. I thought about it for a few minutes, and this was the answer I gave him:

"You know, every year, I say let's meet at 11:30, and every year I go dashing out there and show up at 11, so why kid myself anymore? Let's meet at 11."

I suppose, in my advancing age, I've become wiser about my own particular patterns, if not so much my aptitude to sit out in freezing temperatures at April Games at Citi Field.

Regardless, as if it were a surprise to anyone, I'll be at Citi Field tomorrow for my 12th consecutive Opening Day or Home Opener as the case may be. I've got the Shofar polished, I have a brand new Game Hat for 2016 (Classic Blue, 2015 World Series patch), and now all we need is Howie Rose, the Bill Shea Good Luck Wreath, the Ceremonial First Car Fire and a whole mess of Bunting and we're ready to go.

Things will be a bit different this year as opposed to prior seasons, for obvious reasons. The usual blind hope that everyone enters Opening Day with has been replaced by actual Hope, and there's going to be a banner-raising ceremony to prove it. I've never actually been to a Mets banner-raising ceremony, and the scuttlebutt I'm hearing is that Rusty Staub, John Franco and Edgardo Alfonzo will be there to perform the banner-raising, so this should be a rollicking good time.

It's going to be a festive day—Opening Day usually is—but with a bit more of a purpose. Usually, when I leave Citi Field at the final game of the season, which more often than not has been the final game of the regular season, I'll detour myself to walk down through the Rotunda and smack a pillar on my way out, as if I were patting an old friend on the back and saying, "See you next year!" This didn't happen last season. On the final day of the regular season last year, I knew I'd be back, and I ended up being back 6 times subsequent to that date of October 4th. I didn't say my traditional farewell after Game 4 of the Dodgers series—that was too depressing an evening and too jammed a crowd. After Game 1 of the Cubs series everyone was too busy reveling. And then, there was the final game against Kansas City, at around 12:30 in the morning on November 2nd. And on that night, saying farewell for the offseason wasn't really on my mind and I'm sure it wasn't on the mind of anyone else who was silently and sullenly streaming out of the building. This hasn't sat well with me, not so much the lack of farewell, but the way it all ended—I'm sure that holds true for most fans—the ending kind of undoes the great vibes of the journey to get to that point—but now we get to start over again. The crowd will probably be as full and as fired up as it was last October, albeit with much lower stakes, but that doesn't matter. It's a festive occasion no matter how you look at it.

Come on! Opening Day has it all! The Shofar, the Wreath, the Bunting, the 11:30am Beer, the Car Fire...Can't wait. Howie Rose at 12:40, First pitch 1:10. Who's Drinkin'!?

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