What a difference in opening day 2008 versus opening day last season. This year, there was no stand-still traffic on the Broadway bridge an hour before the game. There was no packed house full of people who had never been to a Travs game and would never return. There was no opening ceremonies with Pat Summerall followed by a flyover. There was no uncomfortable new park to get used to.
Instead, opening day 2008 was like falling into a comfortable chair full of familiarity. It was almost like last season just suddenly picked back up again. The announced crowd was 5,000 something, but it sure wasn't close to that at least for the first pitch. No doubt the weather threat kept a lot of people away, and it was a little bit disappointing to have a smallish crowd for opening night. But on the other hand, it was kind of nice to get that midseason feel right off the bat.
So welcome back, guy complaining about no onions at the stand that sells the Damgoode pizza who was angry because he had the same problem last year. Welcome back, PA announcer guy who has the familiar voice that always takes me back to Ray Winder Field (even though you seem to have left in the sixth inning to beat the rain). Welcome back, radio broadcast booming in the men's room. Welcome back, Phil Elson signature finish on "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." Welcome back, Magallanes sending runners to a certain out. Welcome back, BC Headache Powder toss now known as throw the burrito. Welcome back, Travelers pitching always making the game exciting. Welcome back, yellow grass on the field that makes you think the heat of July is getting to it already in April. Welcome back, Christmas trees inexplicably planted beyond right field. Welcome back, summer.
My opening day experience was a little like George Bailey's as he excitedly runs from one place to another when he returns to Bedford Falls (beat that, Greenberg).
And a special greeting to all that is new this year -- the pitch speed sign in center field that I will now remember not to ignore, the Travs museum for $1 that is long overdue, the wheel of fortune at the front gate where everyone is a winner, the Kidz Korner that charges your child $3 to play on a tiny piece of equipment that can hold about five kids max and run in a field that used to be available for free (this is going to anger quite a few parents), the new fan contest where you catch the whatever shot way up in the air in the net (this I would not mind playing), and our new star Hainley Statia who reminds me of Erick Aybar and now we are down to having only two of the Angels' top 30 prospects if Chris Pettit is out with a broken hand. (By the way, Angels, it may be time to change Ray Winder Field as the home stadium of your Double-A team on the web site.)
A quick word on the weather. I have to agree with what Cozmosis posted in a thread below. The umpires probably should have called the game earlier due to lightning and the Travs should have let fans know about the weather situation before it was upon us. I suggest flashing meteorologist Ed Buckner's coverage up on the scoreboard at any opportunity so that fans can see how close the TORNADO WARNINGS are. Though if they had done that, I guess I would have missed the exciting drive home down I-630 in driving rain and the echo of tornado sirens as I tried to beat the tornado that the KARK coverage on KARN said was about 15 minutes away.
Naturals coverage gets more insulting
The Travs NEVER, especially not on opening day, got a story like this for an AWAY game. Well, I guess we can at least be glad it wasn't on the front page.