Baseball, America’s favorite past time. That saying has been around since the Great Bambino was going out for all night drinking binges and hitting two home runs in a game the next day. To say the phrase is outdated would be putting it lightly, sorry baseball diehards. The NFL eclipsed the MLB in popularity by 1985, the Harris poll started in that year, tracking the favorite sport of adults across all major and collegiate sports. The NFL (24%) only slightly edged out the MLB (23%) in 1985, but now football’s popularity dominates with 33% of adults favoring it compared to baseball’s 15%. Baseball is now in a yearly battle with college football for the second most popular sport in America, a tough fall from grace.
I’m not here to argue that fact though, I am here to make a case for the best EVENT in sports, a single instance. I spent much of my free time (all afternoon) at work yesterday having a mental debate with myself about this very question. I was able to narrow it down to three events; the Superbowl, March Madness opening weekend, and Opening Day.
My first elimination was the Superbowl. I just pointed out that the NFL is the most popular sport by a large margin, so it would make sense that the pinnacle of its season would be the best sports event. Such large popularity can also bring some negative facets to being a best event contender. One of the drawbacks of the popularity is the amount of media coverage it brings. Football has become like 24 hour news channels, it is talked about 24/7 365 days a year. Nothing emphasizes this more than the Tom Brady vs. Roger Goodell saga that left Patriots fans on a manhunt for The Commish and the other 31 team’s fans banging their head into a wall. This story was run into the ground like when Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow. Football is talked about ALL the time. This adds credence to March Madness and Opening Day because the casual fan hasn’t heard about college basketball since last March or baseball since last October. Baseball and college basketball offer a breath of fresh air from football.
Now let’s talk about the Superbowl event itself. The Superbowl has become more akin to a social gathering of girls to watch the season finale of The Bachelor than an actual football game. The game “starts” at 6:30 and doesn’t end until around 11:30, to remind you a normal football game spans about 3 hours. So for those who forgot how to do math, the Superbowl is 2 hours longer than a normal game. Football’s primary audience is men and we have short attention spans, so that already pisses me off. It has become more of an entertainment spectacle where half the people watching it care more about the commercials and how much Queen Beyonce will slay her performance. I watched exactly 0 minutes of this years haltime. I have nothing against Lady Gaga, I just couldn’t give less of a shit about the halftime show and I spent my valuable time playing a game of Mario Tennis instead. So when determining the best event in sports, I will first eliminate the one that forgot it was a sport.
Three entered, two remain. Now, opening weekend of March Madness just happened a week ago and it was incredible as it usually is. How can you not love 16 games of a do or die tournament being played all day and all night, on a Thursday AND a Friday? For many of these kids it’s the last time they get to suit up in their basketball career, that’s what makes the emotion and grit they play with so raw. It’s an unspoken decree that if you are regrettably stuck at work or school, you will spend your entire day streaming these games on your computer. Companies collectively lose $1.9 billion over these two days due to a fruitless workforce, that’s fucking awesome. The money has been shelled out for the 100 brackets you’ve created and this is your year. The midnight oil has burned and all the research has been done on why that #14 seed is going to upset the #3 seed. The perfect bracket has been crafted and you are ready for the games to start. The next thing you know, two of your Final Four teams have been eliminated, all of your upset predictions are wrong, and the world is crashing around you like when Shaq destroyed the hell out of that backboard. But that’s what March Madness opening weekend is all about, busted brackets and absolute chaos.
With all that being said, Opening Day is the best event in sports. I know, I know, I just talked about how fascinating the start of March Madness is, but let me explain myself. Opening Day comes at a peculiar time in the sports calendar, it falls during the beginning of April. The drudging grind of the NBA and NHL regular seasons is sluggishly coming to an end and everyone was ready for the playoffs to start a month ago, players included. LeBron has been resting so much that he is starting to get sores on his ass and has had such an extended absence from the court, he might be bald the next time we see him. Seriously dude just go bald man, you look ridiculous and no one will judge you. The only reason I can think as to why you wouldn’t is that you can’t handle anymore Jordan comparisons.
Picture Credit: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2201782-did-lebron-james-have-his-hairline-fixed
Anyway, college basketball is wrapping up with its finale and the madness portion of it is over, well maybe (sorry Sham). The NFL draft is still a few weeks away and the start of the season is so far in the future that only Marty McFly could get you there. The sports world is left with a void and Opening Day is perfectly positioned to fill it.
Some old guy a long time ago determined when each of the four seasons of weather would “start” and he landed on March 22nd for spring. Well I am here to tell you that this decrepit bastard got it wrong, spring starts with Opening Day. There is just something about this day that makes it feel so magical and I think part of this magic is the signaling that winter is over and warm weather is here to stay. So unless you have some type of fucked up Reversed Seasonal Affective Disorder, this is a magnificent thing. It puts you on notice that summer is right around the corner and it fills you with nostalgia of when you were growing up and could do cool shit outside with your friends all day. Some of you that are reading this are still able to do that, I hate to sound cliche, but enjoy it and savor it as much as you can. For the rest of us that still have to go to work no matter what the season is, at least we can think about that week of vacation at the beach. Also the fact that it’s not pitch black and depressing as shit when we leave work for the day, which is nice. Going to a baseball game in April helps to cement this magic too. It doesn’t even matter if you don’t give a damn about sports, gathering up your friends and heading to the ballpark for booze and baseball is a blast. In D.C. the city feels vibrant again with the cherry blossoms blooming and I’m sure every baseball city has something that adds its own unique touch to the day. This isn’t some David Blaine farce, this is real magic.
Getting down to the brass tacks of it, baseball is still the most American sport we have. All other sports need to respect their elder because baseball came first in 1839, long before football and basketball. It was also invented by a man with the name of Abner Doubleday which may be the most badass name I’ve ever heard. It is etched into America’s history, I’ll even put it ahead of landing on the moon. I was talking to my friend about this yesterday and she said she once signed a petition for Opening Day to be a national holiday, which might be the most brilliant idea ever. If Trump signed an executive order to do this it would make up a microscopic amount for the fact that he thinks climate change is a Chinese hoax, but it would be a start. Some people get Columbus Day as a holiday and he started a genocide, so why shouldn’t we get a holiday for something that brings people together? When you think of 4th of July, the most American holiday in existence, what do you think of? I think of fireworks, friends and family, being on the water, enough alcohol to sedate a rhinoceros, and baseball (oh yeah and our independence too). I came up with an analogy that the SAT can start using; peanut butter is to jelly as baseball is to America. I have been out of school for so long I’m not even sure what the hell an analogy is, but you get my point. Baseball and America go together like Evan and Patrick go together, I’m better at similes.
Now you may be wondering, “Evan you didn’t bring up anything about actually playing baseball.” I know and honestly I don’t give a shit, Opening Day is bigger than baseball, it is a spiritual awakening that occurs once every year. This is the epiphany that dawned on me yesterday and it is why I decided it was better than March Madness. So everyone break out your peanuts and crackerjacks and get your asses to the ballpark. Let’s enjoy Opening Day and forget for one day that we have 161 more games to go before we get to October baseball. As every sports fan in D.C. thinks about all of their teams, it’s the Nationals year (fuck the Mets). This also means to be on the lookout for me to be on suicide watch in October as I watch another D.C. sports team choke that has high expectations.
And as always, #MakeBaseballGreatAgain.