The Romans had to wait until the 10th hour of the day for their entertainment, but today mine came at 5 a.m. I don’t consider 5:05 a.m. typical game time for baseball, but my alarm clock was set well before then when ESPN2 broadcast the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and New York Yankees from Tokyo (7:05 p.m. in Japan).
After all, this is Opening Day, and though it’s just one game that’s at a ballpark nowhere near the United States, I can still feel the excitement. I don’t even particularly like either team, but I love the game.
Opening Day is known as the major league ritual when all teams have a chance to start off clean. On Opening Day, even Devil Rays’ fans are optimistic that Tampa Bay will improve this year so that they don’t lose 99 games again. As for me, I’m optimistic that the New York Mets can avoid last place and law enforcement. The beauty of baseball is the season lasts about half the year and has enough games to last a fan all week.
Last year I attended Opening Day at Tropicana Field and went saw three more games within five days, one of them at another ballpark.
But more than team records, baseball has been about just enjoying the game for what it is. There’s nothing like witnessing a play and then trying to make it home in time to watch it on ESPN’s Top Ten because the play was that good you know it has to be there. It’s the equivalent of waiting for President George W. Bush to say something stupid during a speech and knowing you can watch it again later on the John Stewart’s The Daily Show or Saturday Night Live.
My family raised me as a Catholic, but really my only religion is baseball. Instead of a Bible, I take a program. I attended my first game at Shea Stadium in New York before I could walk. But ever since I could walk into a stadium, a program is the first piece of overpriced merchandise I buy. I even bought a pencil for $2 once, just so I could keep score. I remember to bring my own pencil now so I don’t have to buy $2 pencils, but I’d do it again if I had to because I can’t sit at a game without keeping score.
I take additional notes on my scorecard to remember exactly how the play was made or write expletives next to a player’s name when he isn’t having his best game day. Then I save these scorecards, along with programs and ticket stubs in my personal archive at home.
I’ve been asked at a game why I like to keep score, as it was unusual for a girl to get that involved in watching the game. Well, for anyone who thinks the same, I’ll take a scorecard and a hot dog to a playbill in a fancy theater any day.
It isn’t long when I’m at a game with the smell of hot dogs and pretzels before I can buy some. I don’t choose between the two because I never can, so I buy both along with a souvenir-sized soda. I don’t complain about the concession stand prices anymore, simply because I’m used to it. And don’t think prices are any cheaper at another ballpark. Last year I attended six different ballparks, and the prices remained relatively the same.
Ticket prices have become outrageous, too, but it doesn’t keep me from going or the rest of baseball fans in America for that matter. There’s nothing like buying tickets from a scalper to get better seats without the taxes. And if I can’t attend a game, there’s always MLB.com that allows me to watch the game pitch by pitch. Whether it’s money, work, school or Tokyo that prevents me from attending a game, I will find a way to to see it even if I have to wake up before the sun rises.
Grace Agostin is a senior majoring in mass communications.