About the time C.C. Sabathia was firing his first pitch of Opening Day for a strike at the knees on Monday, word began to spread: Louisville’s Kevin Ware was out of his hospital bed, on crutches, wearing his Midwest Regional Champions cap.
Talk about a moment for hope, a season of renewal.
The last time we saw Ware, a sophomore guard for the Cardinals, he was lying in anguish in front of his team’s bench, his tibia protruding from his skin. Nearly 35,000 fans at Louisville’s NCAA tournament game fell silent for 10 minutes Sunday after Ware broke his leg in two places on an otherwise routine play.
Eighteen hours later, Ware was on his feet. He plans to rejoin his teammates in Atlanta at the Final Four this weekend.
Ware’s progress from his Easter Sunday collapse matched the mood many of us feel with the onset of spring, and that millions of baseball fans like us felt on Monday – a day of limitless possibilities and (perhaps unrealistic, but that’s irrelevant) hope.
Those who are not baseball fans might not totally get it, but on Opening Day, as the saying goes, everyone is 0-0. Every team has a chance to win the pennant (OK, not the Astros or Marlins). Last year is history, and even the disappointment of your basketball team losing in the NCAA tournament is instantly eased by the salve of a new baseball season.
Many believe Opening Day should be a national holiday. It is an official holiday in Cincinnati, where kids and adults alike skip school and work, and on Monday set a regular season record for attendance at Great American Ball Park. We might see some of that in Charlotte a year from now, when the Knights begin play uptown.
On Opening Day, fans can believe that the Washington Nationals’ 20-year-old star Bryce Harper will have a season for the ages. When he hits a home run in his first at-bat of the year, and a second in his second at-bat, as he did Monday, the anticipation is fulfilled, at least for an afternoon.
With spring in bloom (though it’s been agonizingly slow to arrive), it’s easier to have new hope on other fronts. Mecklenburg County’s real estate market is heating up. The stock market is at record highs. Heck, there are even signs of Democrats and Republicans coming together to get things done in Congress.
One other allure of the boys of summer: Taking in a game. One “takes in” only a baseball game, never a basketball or football game. That speaks to its leisurely pace, but also the demand to think about the complexity of what’s happening on the field. In this era of email and texts, Instagram and tweets, we could all benefit from “taking in” life – slowing things down and stopping to think. From airport governance to education reform, taking the time to think could really pay off down the road.
The optimism bred by spring and Opening Day can be a sugar high. Bryce Harper won’t hit two home runs per game this year. After that first strike Monday, C.C. Sabathia gave up four runs in the first two innings. The economy will continue to fall as well as rise. Still, basking in the hope of the season, be it baseball or spring, is a fulfilling and uplifting pastime.
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