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Opening Day Reflections as The Next Chapter Begins

Austin Hays Colton Cowser Cedric Mullins
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Everyone has days on the calendar that are their favorite days of the year. For some, it may be their birthday or the birthday(s) of their children, perhaps a certain holiday.

For sports fans, maybe it’s the Super Bowl or your college football team’s rivalry game. For me, my favorite time of the year on the sports calendar is right now. The NCAA basketball tournament, the glory of The Masters and, of course, the start of the baseball season. Outside of my kids’ birthdays, Opening Day is my #1 day of the year.

I find that no sport does “big days” better than baseball. Whether it be Opening Day or the All-Star Game or the playoffs, baseball is unmatched. As fans, we have a connection to the players and the history of the game that other sports just don’t have. No other sport can be described as “romantic.” No other sport brings you to tears. No other sport brings out pure emotion like baseball does.

I was fortunate enough to be at Orioles Opening Day this year. It was my 32nd Opening Day since I became a baseball fan in 1987. I have been able to share my love and passion for the day with my wife and two sons for the last several years and that has greatly heightened the day for me.

And no team and no stadium does Opening Day better than the Orioles and Camden Yards. OPACY is still one of, if not the best, stadiums in the league. Opening Day is like taking a beautiful house and decorating it at Christmas time. The bunting hanging on the warehouse, the logo out in the grass and the orange carpet laid out for opening introductions. These are small touches that just add some much beauty to the stadium. It’s the same every year but it never gets old.

This was a different Opening Day though. While they are all fun and have emotion, today was special. I found myself thinking back to a few years ago. The Orioles won 52 games in 2021. Players like Freddy Galvis, Rio Ruiz, Pedro Severino and Maikel Franco ran down the orange carpet that day. The Angelos family was firmly entrenched and didn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.

Fast forward to yesterday. The Orioles are coming off a 101 win season and an AL East title. They traded for one of the top five pitchers in all of baseball, Corbin Burnes, and he came out and absolutely dominated the Angels. We heard names like Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson announced to deafening applause. We honored the victims of the tragic Key Bridge accident and cheered for the first responders who helped to save lives. And, on top of all of that, was the new ownership group.

We saw part of the group drinking beers with fans at Pickles and buying the whole bar a round. We saw David Rubenstein, walking around, greeting fans, shaking hands, acknowledging the staff and just being every man’s man. He cares. He gives a damn and that is such a refreshing change to what we as fans have suffered through for so many years.

This doesn’t happen in other sports. Don’t get me wrong, America loves football like no other sport but the connection is just different with baseball.

I found myself tonight thinking about some Orioles history. I watched highlights of the final game ceremony at Memorial Stadium and some highlights of 2131. My time as an Orioles fan has rarely seen a lot of success. We have had some stints but nothing that lasted too long. Right now, I feel we are in for Atlanta Braves-esque sustained success. Ownership seems fully invested, we have arguably the best front office in the sport and talent the entire league drools over.

We have a team full of dudes who get along like a group of friends that have been together their whole lives. The chemistry is obvious. It’s a team that is so easy to root for, led by Rutschman, who may be the most likable player in the whole sport.

What’s scary is that the team today is going to pale in comparison, pure talent wise, to the team we likely see by the end of the year. I feel like my generation and those after us are going to finally get a feeling of what our parents felt and saw. They got to see great teams every year. They got to see great players being brought up all the time. They got to see the best team in the sport for about a 20-year stretch. My generation deserves that. We have been through a lot and it’s our time now.

Yesterday was just one of 162. Baseball is truly a marathon and a lot can go right or wrong in any given season. That said, the AL East and the AL in general was put on notice today. Last year’s O’s team was not a fluke. They aren’t going anywhere and they are going to just keep getting better and now it seems we have an owner to match the front office and that is an absolutely lethal combination.

So today, as we can all bask in the victory and think of things to come, let’s remember to step back and thank Mike Elias and his team, as well as David Rubenstein and his team, and revel in the idea that the Orioles are back and they aren’t going anywhere.

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