My Rules for Opening Day
I’d be driving home, so I knew I could catch yesterday’s Braves opener on the radio. But just in case, I made sure my MLB AtBat app was updated. I changed my profile picture to the open-mouthed mascot from the 80’s, which I probably shouldn’t have done in light of Keith Good’s story about the Cleveland Indians Chief Wahoo controversy, but, well, it was the first image that popped up when I googled “Atlanta Braves.” So on this, the last Opening Day at Turner Field — which I’m still pretty ticked about — I thought I might make myself a list of rules, just in case my enthusiasm clouds my judgment after the first pitch is thrown.
- Don’t think about what the downtown backdrop will look like this time next year. Don’t think about the pathetic piece of wall in the middle of a parking lot, the lone, concrete, recognition of the spot where Hank Aaron hit Number 715. (Would a tree have been too much to ask? Maybe some picnic tables?) You think the neighborhood is blighted now? Just wait. Sorry downtown Atlanta, we’re on our way out.
- Don’t give in to nostalgia depression as the 1990’s Braves of my youth make their way around the perimeter of the field, much the way they did when we left Fulton County Stadium just a couple decades ago.
- Don’t cry.
- Don’t be angry when Aybar pulls Freeman off the bag in the top of the first inning to let the Nats’ Ryan Zimmerman on base. Do not, under any circumstance, say, “But Simba would have made that play, and it would have been fun to watch him make it.”
- Don’t get too excited about Ender Inciarte. Stop repeating his name just because it’s fun to say. Remember, we are supposed to be terrible this year. It’s a rebuilding year, blah, blah. Keep them optimism to a minimum, please.
- Don’t let regret ruin the day when you get the text from Atlanta friends who are at the game. They want to know if you made the three-hour drive from Alabama and brought the kids to Atlanta for Opening Day. You didn’t. You wish you had. Why didn’t you? Fight the mom guilt.
- Don’t get too excited when Jeff Francouer comes up to bat – even when the whole Turner Field crowd gives him a standing ovation. Yes, he’s adorable, and you’re so happy he’s back. But have a little dignity, ok?
- Turn away when the Jones boys – Braves veterans Chipper and Andruw – pull the “1” off the large “81” in left field, leaving a “0” in its place, beginning a countdown of the number of games left at Turner. See #3.
- Don’t sing along with Atlanta opera great Timothy Miller while he performs “God Bless America” during the 7th inning stretch. The kids hate it when you do that, and their friends are here at the house. They’ll never live down their embarrassing mother singing opera style.
- Don’t be mad when Jason Grilli blows a save in the top of the ninth — a save that surely Craig Kimbrel would have bagged if the Braves hadn’t sent him to San Diego last year.
- Don’t get too wrapped up in the “free baseball” that comes with extra innings on Opening Day. Your phone’s about to die, so you’re gonna’ have to read about it later to find out what happens anyway.
- Keep your smile, even when you come home to learn the Bravos lost. Remember it’s ok, ’cause it’s April and baseball’s back!