Forget about working a full day today. Tell your boss you’re leaving at lunch, and skip the pretense: You didn’t catch a nasty bug, the plumber isn’t patching up your leaky pipes, and your great aunt isn’t on her deathbed. No need to spout off excuses for taking a vacation.
It’s Opening Day, with capital letters, damn it. That’s reason enough.
The official start of the Major League Baseball season is an annual occasion so steeped in tradition that to deny it a designated spot on the workplace calendar along with the other American holidays is unfair and unjust. Isn’t it puzzling that most organizations relieve their employees from working on Columbus Day, but not Opening Day?
Why use up a cold, miserable day in October to honor a long-dead explorer when we could spend a warm afternoon in April watching our heroes zip across the warning track and hammer home runs, then emulate their forceful swings and Web Gem catches in our back yard until the sun sets? That sure as hell beats forced conversation at the copier mixed with meetings and memos.
To men, Opening Day doesn’t just mean the return of baseball—it heralds the return of summer. The return of barbecues. Of fireworks. Of beaches, babes, and boat shoes.
Sure, the season doesn’t officially rear its head until mid-June, but under the laws of the National Pastime, summer truly begins in April, when teams like the Astros still have a fleeting chance of finishing above .500, and only really heats up along with the September pennant races. Summer is sitting under the stars sipping a cold one while listening to Vin Scully recite poetry, play by play.
Summer is stretching in the nosebleeds of Wrigley before the bottom of the seventh. Summer is teaching your kid how to work a count, fiddling with his stance, and imparting to him the precious guy wisdom that is breaking in an infield glove. (Need even more baseball? Check out the 50 Greatest MLB Plays of All-Time.)
On the surface, plenty has changed since we last left baseball: Scherzer is a Nat. Lester is a Cub. The Padres just made their 87th blockbuster trade in as many days. Yet baseball, at its heart, is the same as it’s been since your days on the diamond, and your father’s days on the sandlot, and his father’s days in the fields, or wherever kids ran the bases during the Depression.
It’s a game that preaches patience, restraint, determination, and focus—all life virtues that never lose their impact, no matter your age or profession. Baseball reminds us that sometimes if just slow down, think things through, and zone out the bullshit, success will follow. Meanwhile, all Columbus did was discover some measly piece of land.
So gentlemen, treat Opening Day like the holiday it’s meant to be. Trade in your three-piece suit for your faded Phillies shirsey that you packed away for the winter, your polished loafers for the muddy cleats laying in the garage, and your leather briefcase for that lucky Louisville Slugger sitting in the shed.
Your work will be waiting for you when you come back to the office tomorrow. For now, let’s play ball.
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