Five memorable Opening Day openers

Does the start of any other sporting season inspire writing like baseball’s Opening Day? I doubt football does, and if you want to argue with me, you’ll have to wait several months to prove it. Certainly not basketball. Maybe hockey, if you’re Canadian.

Here are five ledes that keep you reading. If you have others, post them in the comments.

Corey Kilgannon, The New York Times

There may be no bigger New York Mets fan than Miriam Stone, and she has never even seen them play.

“For me, hearing is what seeing is,” said Ms. Stone, 60, on Wednesday, as she sat on her bed in her small studio apartment in Forest Hills, Queens, listening to the WFAN radio broadcast of the Mets-Yankees preseason game from Florida. “You’ve got to be able to hear everything going.”

Ben Walker, The Associated Press

Stephen Strasburg on the mound at Wrigley Field, pink flamingos in center field at Miami. Vin Scully at the microphone, Prince Fielder in Motown.

Young and old, fresh and familiar, baseball is set to start all across America. A week after Ichiro Suzuki, Yoenis Cespedes and the rest of Athletics and Mariners began in Tokyo, everyone else gets a turn at opening day.

David O’Brien, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

NEW YORK – Reset. Start over. Clean slate.

For every team, that’s what Opening Day is about. The team that overcame the 10-1/2-game wild-card deficit in the last five weeks of the season and won the World Series is on the same footing as the team — ahem — that blew that huge lead and missed the playoffs.

The Braves were, you might have heard, the team in question that stayed home when the playoffs began. They lost 20 of their last 30 games in 2011. (They also won just one of their first 12 spring-training games this year.)

All of which means nothing beginning today at 1:05 p.m.

It’s over, folks. Cling to it or let it go, it won’t matter either way after 1:05 p.m.

Rebirth. Renewal.

Ricky O’Donnell, SB Nation

There’s a well-worn cliche that states baseball’s Opening Day is a time when hope springs eternal. From Pittsburgh to San Diego, Toronto to Houston, every team has a chance at glory and every fanbase is refreshed by the impending thaw of winter. This is what Major League Baseball wants you to believe, and you’ll be reminded of it incessantly over the next few days each time you turn on the TV.

There’s only one problem: any fan worth their salt knows it’s all bullshit, the type of league-sanctioned propaganda sent down to make you forget that the New York Yankees’ third baseman makes more than half of the Kansas City Royals’ total payroll.

Dan Shaughnessy, The Boston Globe

DETROIT—We traditionally overrate the Red Sox. They have the best lineup. They have too much pitching. They have great ownership. They have dedicated fans and a cozy, celebrity ballpark. This is the year. Best Team Ever. Leave calendars open for October. Strawberry Fields Forever.

Not this year. No one is picking the Red Sox to win. The Sox are careening down the dugout steps and they haven’t even played a game yet. The Red Sox this year are underdogs, hiding in the weeds while all the attention is focused on American League teams from New York, Detroit, Anaheim, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Tampa Bay.

The Sox have earned this disrespect. Royally.

Bonus! A story from the good old days these writers refer to, written by George Kimball and published in the Boston Phoenix in 1971:

Years ago—only a few years ago, actually, but still years before the miracle year of 1967 and years before it became chic to root for the Red Sox—the centerfield bleachers at Fenway were traditionally the habitat of the most diehard of Sox aficionados. If the bleacherites weren’t the most knowledgeable fans, they were close to it, and they were certainly the most faithful. I suspect I was exposed to more genuine baseball lore, more understandings of the subtleties and stratagems of the game, and perhaps most importantly, more sheer love for the sport by sitting exclusively in the bleachers from boyhood through my early twenties than I’ve encountered in any reserved seat press box since.

This, of course, was back in the days when the Red Sox were drawing so poorly that they had to schedule night games around the Hatch Shell concerts in the summer and when a gate of 20,000 on Opening Day was considered spectacular. But from April through September the coterie in center field retained fidelity unmatched anywhere else in the American League. And while the businessmen who bought season tickets might sit next to someone in an adjacent box all season long and never exchange six words, there were people out there who’d been friends for twenty-five years yet never seen each other outside Fenway Park.

(Thanks to Alex Belth for posting Kimball’s story and to Max Linsky for pointing it out.)

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