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Opening day is a new beginning

Adam Cahill | Wednesday, April 7, 2004

A few days ago, I fell asleep in my bed after a long night of studying and paper-writing. Usually it would be easy for me to get to sleep, but that night I was restless. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but something wasn’t right. Nothing would work – Advil PM, opening the windows, closing the windows, music or reading. Finally, though, I fell asleep to an unbelievable dream – a green field against a sky so brilliantly blue that I hadn’t the courage to take an unstrained look at it.On the field were my friends, each one wearing a smile of supreme happiness. And it was a game we were playing, though what game I could not be sure because the dream faded from my memory.The following day I stared out the window of my closet-like dorm room and wondered where the excitement had gone. There was nothing new to look forward to, it seemed. The national basketball quarterfinals had just ended, and all that remained to the basketball season were a mere handful of games that were going to be played by teams that I had no interest in. The cold South Bend days that I had so desperately wanted to find relief from had no hope of being replaced by anything other than wearing sandals to the dining hall instead of hiking boots and hours in front of a computer in preparation for the onslaught of papers before finals.The snows have long since gone now, and the trees have begun to bloom, but there still seems to be a void in the inevitable coming of spring. The wind still seems to rip through me like I’m a Southerner too far north, there aren’t even enough birds to sing a nice spring tune, and all the professors have decided that now would be a great time to fill their quotas of papers and tests.So as I pushed back my chair and turned to head out the door, consequently hitting my left knee on my sink and my right on the ladder of my loft, I realized there is little chance that anything could help me change my attitude toward the oncoming home stretch of the semester. I needed something new, something exciting. I needed something that would continually give me moments of rapture but yet test my patience over a long and grueling battle against time and circumstance. I needed something that would occupy my time but in a setting that can only be described in a Jimmy Buffett or James Taylor song, something closer to the segmented dream that I had experienced a few nights before.But when I walked into the lounge, the television gave me the answer I had been in search of for quite some time. Sitting down in the nearest armchair, I became enthralled with the timeless tradition of Major League Baseball’s opening day. Opening day is a time where everyone is excited about the possibility of what could happen if all the cards fall into the right places. It’s a time when dreams don’t seem so far away but yet they’re a world away from actually being achieved. It’s the hope of the possibility that makes opening day what it is.Most of the time, it doesn’t even matter who plays in the opening days of the season. Whether it is the Detroit Tigers, the New York Yankees or the Chicago Cubs, Opening Day is filled with questions and the lack of answers. Who will have a breakout season? Who is over the hill? But what matters most is that everyone is full of hope and excitement for the oncoming season. Even the teams that have absolutely no talent in comparison to the larger market teams are still held together with the slimmest yet still ever-present hope that they can make a Cinderella run at the World Series.Opening Day is a new beginning to the endless summer days of playing stick-ball in the street and throwing any kind of ball up into the air so you can field it with a gloved hand. It is a new beginning to the bottomless bags of Big League Chew and sunflower seeds. It is a new beginning to hours upon hours of trading baseball cards and the need to get as many rookie cards as possible. It is the place where heroes are born and tragedy is found in defeat.Opening Day starts the grueling challenge of being a true fan for 162 games and hopefully more. It is the start of prayers that focus on curses and that they be lifted. Like New Year’s Day, Opening Day in baseball is a fresh start, a new creation born in hope.But to me, Opening Day is a new beginning to childhood.

Adam Cahill is a senior history and American studies major. His column appears every other Wednesday. he can be contacted at acahill@nd.edu.The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.