The smell of the grass. The crack of the bat. The muffled screams as I stuff my daughter into a steamer trunk until November. Yes, it's Opening Day. In a power ranking of days, Opening Day is the best day. All days should be Opening Day, but if all days were Opening Day, we wouldn't appreciate Opening Day as much. So drink the real thing down while it's happening. Opening Day.
And if you're looking for a reason to get excited for the season -- you know, because you're fat, lazy, and sated after the Giants' recent runs -- this headline from the excellent Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness did it for me: Welcome to the Most Anticipated Season of Dodger Baseball In Years.
The Giants have reached a point where they don't need to rely on schadenfreude for how they define a successful season. The Joe Morgan homer in 1982 was one of the best moments in San Francisco Giants history for a while, and that's kind of gross. It was a homer to help an already-eliminated team eliminate a rival team. Great fun? Sure. A franchise moment? Shouldn't be.
From there the Giants got a taste of playoff success and disappointment, pushing the boulder a little farther up the hill each time. A little more playoff success, a lot more playoff disappointment, and the boulder maimed and disfigured us, but never made us stop coming back every April. Then there was Cody Ross, Marco Scutaro, Juan Uribe, baseballs hitting the tops of fences and bouncing back, baseballs hitting bats three times before whiffling by infielders … now, those are franchise moments. And because we're so danged magnanimous, we even offered to share Juan Uribe with the Los Angeles fans. Don't say we never did anything for you.
Here, then, is the cycle of life. Because you know what gets me excited about this season? Not necessarily thoughts of another championship, seeing as that will always be a hard-to-reach goal, even if the Giants were to have the best team in baseball. That would be the best-case scenario, of course. The Giants' success is far more important that what any of the other teams do. But I'm also secretly thrilled with fantasies of the Dodgers' September looking like the post-election victory party for a candidate getting beat by 20 points. Goodness, that nourishes me. I thought I was a bigger man than that but, nope.
There are so, so many expectations in Dodgerland right now. It's Christmas morning, and the Dodgers are giddily tearing away at the wrapping paper. It's the Giants' job to make sure that there's nothing in there but a severed finger or a bunch of cilantro or something. And if the Giants can't, well, the disgust and mortification will be tenfold compared to a typical baseball season with a typical Dodgers team finding success. But the schadenfreude would be off the charts, too. Them's the stakes. That's the bargain we've all made.
So go out there and bite them, Hunter Pence. Bite them right in the neck. Please don't actually bite them. But, you know, be better than their players at baseball.
We make predictions every year, and it's that time again. The problem is that these are a little late, and you have the cognitive bias of the First Place Houston Astros messing you up, but hopefully you can fight through that.
Bias ain't just a river in Egypt, everybody, and I apologize for nothing. I am an arrogant Red Sox fan from before the 2008 season, and it feels good.
Also, I know how incredibly unlikely it would be for there to be three 100-loss teams, but when I was adding up the win totals, the easy way to make it work was to take a couple from the worst teams in the land.