Our Time Begins on Opening Day
“Don’t tell me about the world. Not today. It’s springtime and they’re knocking baseballs around fields where the grass is damp and green in the morning and the kids are trying to hit the curveball.” – Pete Hamill
Native Washingtonian and esteemed sportswriter Thomas Boswell once penned the famous notion that time begins on Opening Day. For baseball fans of every generation, this simple ideal expressed their love for the sport in a way that resonated and persisted. It is a sentiment still referenced each spring as planes scatter and leap from the two hubs of the game’s preseason universe only to come to rest in the metropolises that dot the nation. This is our signal, the raised starter’s pistol, of the beginning of the season and, as such, time itself.
On this day, hope is always in grand supply, but its depth is not universally equal amongst the 30 squads. By now, even the blindest of faith, the homers of all homers, have admitted to themselves the boundaries of their team’s potential. Nationals fans, such as yourself, have surely looked at past editions of the team with this hesitation – with the hope that you are proven wrong by the team’s success. It’s hard to open yourself up to a team, to become vulnerable, only to have your love go unrequited in the doldrums of the dog days of summer.
Indeed, winning takes time. Building a sustainable, competitive organization takes more than that. It takes smart personnel hires, diligent research on potential draft picks, key pickups through trades, valuable free agent acquisitions, and a generally keen eye for exploiting market inefficiencies. With most winning teams, there is a moment where everything comes together and clicks. It often happens quite suddenly, so that only in hindsight can you look back and say, “well, sure, of course they were that good.”
This spring, your friends and family from Philadelphia and New York will tell you that your team is too young, that they lack the firepower to be true contenders. Some, at their most forgiving, might allow the concession that the Nationals could be competitive in a few years, somewhere down the line. It is neither the time, nor the place to argue with their steadfast proclamations. Simply nod politely, smile, and wait.
You understand. You know that their team’s clock, their time, began years ago. They are clinging to memories of teams past, or younger versions of the ones on the field in front of them this April. They are watching as the grains of sand dwindle in the top of their hourglass. The louder they chirp, the more obvious it is that they understand this. The more they dismiss the reality of the situation, the more clearly they are in denial of where the Nationals are in their own timeline.
Our team’s hourglass flips today, as full of potential as any fan could hope.
Make no mistake, none of it means anything yet. Nothing has been accomplished, not a single game won in the standings. But the squad has been assembled and the excitement in the air is both real and justified. There is no cause for celebration, just anticipation for a truly new beginning. The opportunity is there for the taking in front of a team, an organization, and a city aching for a winner.
It’s time to rethink everything you used to know about your team, right here, right now.