Like clockwork, every single spring, baseball has always come to predominate my thoughts. I try to pretend I'm too smart and cool to care about pitchers and catchers reporting, and meaningless spring training games, but as the temperatures start their upward climb, I'm lying if I say I don't know they're going on. And they're always a precursor to the best day of the sports year: Opening Day. Right as winter is truly vanquished for good in the mid-Atlantic, the greatest sport opens up a season where, truly, anything can happen. More so than any major sport, in baseball it really only takes a few key breaks -- an injury, a previously unknown breakout player, a random clustering of good luck, to turn a mediocre team into a playoff team, or vice versa. So Opening Day is always full of that hope, excitement and trepidation.
Except, this year, for me. I'm heading to Opening Day like I always have, and the feeling just isn't quite there.
It's not hard to see why an Orioles fan's enthusiasm might be dampened a bit heading into 2016. After the team steamrolled baseball's best division in 2014, they barely fought to a .500 record in 2015, and now they head in to 2016 having (essentially) spent all of their dollars to keep the same team intact and hope for some rebound seasons. Sure, they added a few home runs bats (and let their best starting pitcher go). You have to squint to see the "everything goes right" Orioles, but they're there -- maybe Gausman finally breaks out. Maybe Tillman, Gallardo and Jimenez keep the team in most games. Maybe Pedro Alvarez puts baseballs over that short right field wall a lot. But you don't have to squint nearly as hard to see the team flounder around .500 again.
And of course, nothing about this team's offseason exactly went smoothly. They tried to sign Dexter Fowler, with most outlets reporting it as done, and then he suddenly appears with the Cubs for less money. They signed Yovani Gallardo, but restructured his contract at the last minute due to a physical issue. They're battling with Hyun Soo Kim about accepting an assignment to the minors after signing him to a major-league deal from Korea. They suddenly cut Miguel Gonzalez, even with all their pitching worries, much to the obvious upset of their players.
But maybe it's not the team. Maybe I just need some space right now. After they left the desert in 2012, I signed up for a partial season plan even though I live more than an hour from the stadium on a good day. Maybe that driving:baseball ratio sort of burned me out when they floundered during a year that looked like their golden opportunity to take a next step.
And I've gotten slowly more into the Capitals each year in recent memory. It's not the Orioles' fault that the Caps are putting the finishing touches on a historically great season right as baseball starts up. Braden Holtby could plausibly break the single-season goalie win record during baseball's opening week. That's not Adam Jones's fault, but it makes me care a little less about what he's doing in Game 5 of the regular season.
But probably this is all a lie. I think that baseball and me are drifting apart, but when I'm sitting in the stands with a Snake Dog IPA and some crab dip waffle fries again, all those good feelings are gonna come roaring back. I'll look at Chris Tillman and see a guy who can plausibly anchor a staff, not an inefficient, inconsistent starter who'd be a #3 anywhere else. I'll believe that this team will break the MLB single-season team home run record and win a lot of games even with mediocre starting. I won't mind the drive home, and I won't be overly worried about which round of the NHL playoffs will lead to the inevitable Capitals letdown. Baseball will be back, spring will have sprung, and that will be that.
The stories presented as part of the 2016 Camden Chat Opening Day Marathon are written by members of our community. To add your voice to the site please consider writing a FanPost.