You wait all winter for the first game. They call it Opening Day with capital letters for a reason. You buy into the optimism, work up a certain level of excitement and get really eager for the start of what's sure to be a better season.
I kind of went off the deep end after one game last year, a friend noted, and I promised I wouldn't do the same this year even though that 11-1 disaster sure looked a lot like last year right down to Nats Park being Citizens Bank Park South.
But I'm not going off the deep end. I'll wait a couple of days on that. I got so much good news yesterday that the game doesn't really matter.
I'm back in the game! You may notice a new line under the "masthead" for this little blog. It will direct you to the baseball page of a great sports Web site, AOL FanHouse (www.FanHouse.com).
I'm now a senior editor for FanHouse. My duties are still being defined but everything we've discussed is right in my wheelhouse and I'm excited beyond words to be joining this organization. Lots of former newspaper people there and that's part of what makes it so attractive. They take a solid newspaper approach - excellent reporting, writing, commentary and more - and apply it to a modern platform. The good ol' Web.
The job will keep me pretty busy, so I don't think I'll get to as many games this summer. Somehow I'll live. They are A-OK with me continuing this blog and with my continuing my teaching as an adjunct at VCU. Those are two things I enjoy so I'm thrilled to be able to keep them on my plate.
I loved the flexibility and freedom of the freelance life but the writing opportunities weren't there like they were so many years ago. Or maybe they were and I spent too much time trying to make Virginia Sports Now work that I whiffed on a few. I still love that site and had a ton of fun doing it. But I discovered that pay content isn't going to really take off just yet. I didn't sell a lot (though I did do three times as well as Newsweek). I had a modest goal for sales and I missed it by more than a modest amount.
Live and learn. The experience made me better and will benefit me in my position with FanHouse.
As for yesterday's game, yeah, I was glad to have some distractions. It was ugly and it showed the gap between the Nationals and Phillies is much, much wider than the short distance that separates the two cities. So short that half of Philadelphia showed up in D.C. for the game.
The quotes I read from Jim Riggleman about that were spot on and in line with what many of us wrote last year. We don't like it? Tough. It's on the Nats to improve to the point where they are the hot ticket and their own fans have trouble getting them. That hasn't happened. This team really can't afford another terrible start. If that happens, it's easy to guess there will be a lot of four-figure crowds on hand until You Know Who shows up. Philadelphia money is just as green as Washington money, so I'm sure the Nats will continue to accept it with a smile.
I'm going to Thursday's game. I'm eager to eat some of that $5 pizza I've heard about and see what other changes have been made. It will probably rain. It did that to me a lot last year. The team will probably be 0-2 when I arrive and 0-3 when I leave. It lost 18 of the first 22 games I saw last season, including the first six or so.
Whatever. It will be a while before this buzz wears off. Look for me. I'll be the big, bald guy - probably soaking wet but wearing a huge smile.
Keep that smile on my face by reading FanHouse - a lot.