Nine reasons why Opening Day is better than Christmas:
1. The double-play. As opposed to the sexier things in the game, like strikeouts and home runs, double plays are the meat-and-potatoes of baseball, happening in most games, often several times. They are unexpectedly graceful, particularly the pivot to throw to first after receiving the ball and touching second. Everyday grace. The first time my wife saw a professional-level double-play up close, at a minor league game, she actually gasped.
3. Hot dogs.
4. History. Baseball has been around for well over 100 years. It is a microcosm of American history, good and bad - labor unions, race, commercialism, the worship of celebrity, the celebration of the work ethic and upward mobility. It grew popular during the Civil War, when men from all over the United States taught each other the game to pass the time. After the war, those left alive took the game back to their hometowns.
5. Mr. Met.
6. Bill Buckner.
7. Pedro Martinez. His glory days as a power pitcher are over, and he rarely cracks 92 on the radar gun anymore. He relies on guile and control and wit to survive. In his days as President of Red Sox Nation, he used to “sign” the games he pitched, by striking out the last batter, just to show that he could strike someone out at will. Magnificent. The fact that he’s a Met is just gravy.
8. It is the only major sport with no clock. You play til you’re done. If you refuse to make the last out, it can go on forever.
9 . The Infield Fly Rule.