My love affair with baseball started early. As a kid I was obsessed with Sammy Sosa, and even named a pet squirrel after him. As a teenager, I opted out of a sweet sixteen birthday party in exchange for tickets to a Fourth of July baseball game. In my twenties, I’m ready and willing to marry a baseball player. Needless to say, there is no need to tell me that today, Opening Day of baseball season 2016, is a day to celebrate. I’ve been ready since the final third out of the 2015 World Series.
But if the crack of the bat, the vibes of an ecstatic crowd, or the buzz of full count strike doesn’t excite you personally, that’s okay. Baseball isn’t for everyone.
Except that, actually, it is.
No matter what you’ve previously thought about baseball, the truth is that the game has more to offer than most people realize. Whether you’ve been counting down the hours to Opening Day, or you couldn’t name a professional team if your life depended on it, the 2016 season has something to offer you. Here is a brief rundown of all the things you can expect from baseball this year. I dare you not to find at least one thing that sparks your interest.
Math Geeks: Today happens to be Square Root Day. This means that the day and the month are the square root of the last two digits of the year 4/4/16 (For those like me who haven’t been in math since high school, that means 4×4=16). This is the first time Opening Day and Square Root Day have ever crossed paths.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Fanatics: The Boston Red Sox will be hosting a Grateful Dead night in April, while the Giants will be rocking to Metallica in May. Likewise, the Marlins will be having a night of tribute to the band Journey. (If pop and hip-hop is more your style, you might just want to become a Miami Marlins fan. They’ve also scheduled post-game concerts from Jake Miller, Charli XCX, and Salt-N-Pepa.)
Elvis Gurus: Naturally, the King must be honored. Expect fireworks from the White Sox in August, and don’t be surprised if you see an impersonator or two running around.
Jedi Masters and Other Citizens of a Galaxy Far, Far Away: The Red Sox, Reds, A’s, Phillies, Giants, and Rangers will all be using the force in 2016. I can’t tell you what to expect, but I know for a fact that there were free shirts for the fans and couple of droids running around last season. Darth Vader also may have made a few appearances.
Irish Descendants: For some reason both the White and the Red Sox will be celebrating “Half-way to St. Patrick’s Day” this season. If you love your Irish roots and want a cool hat, these are the baseball games for you.
Mexican Heritage Seekers: The Chicago White Sox are giving away free t-shirts on Cinco de Mayo, and, in a possible attempt to appease the mob, there will also be a celebration of Italian heritage the following day.
Ethnic Pride: Actually, almost every culture can expect recognition from Major League Baseball this season: African American, Polynesian, Italian, Deaf, Filipino, Jewish, Native American, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Asian Pacific, and Chinese heritage will all be celebrated at various stadiums throughout the year.
Businesspeople: The Cincinnati Reds understand that the business world is grueling, which is why they are hosting several business days throughout the 2016 season. If you drop off your business card you will have a chance to win free tickets to the next business day game. Bring the whole office!
Hello Kitty Collectors: If a certain Japanese kitten warms your heart, you will be pleased to know that the San Francisco Giants will be giving away Hello Kitty bobbleheads in July. And if you miss that opportunity, just swing by the Oakland Athletics a few days later and try again.
Comic Book Lovers: The San Francisco Giants have you covered. Yes, the in-game entertainment will be comic book themed. Yes, you may dress up as your favorite character. And yes, Stan Lee will be in attendance. I am not making this up.
Dog Owners: Nearly every team has some sort of “Bark in the Park” day like the one the Texas Rangers have hosted the past several years. Fans are encouraged to bring their furry friends along to watch the game with them. For dog lovers who don’t own a pet, this is a great way to get your puppy fix, much better than adoption day at PetSmart.
Trekkies: Fear not Star Trek fans, the Star Wars hype did not stop San Francisco from planning a night just for you. They know that your franchise has a 50 year anniversary in 2016, and they want to help you commemorate the special occasion.
Stormchasers: Later this month, celebrate the height of tornado season by watching the Cleveland Indians take on the Mariners during Weather Education Day at Progressive Field.
Shakespearean Lovers: If you love Shakespeare, I must assume that you also love a good case of irony. In an ironic twist of fate, the Atlanta Braves will play their final game of 2016 at their current stadium, Turner Field on the exact 20 year anniversary of the final game they played at their previous field, Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.
Needlepoint Crafters: Even you have a place in the baseball world! The Phillies will host their 10th annual Stich n’ Pitch where fans are encouraged to “knit, crochet, embroider, cross-stich, and needlepoint all while enjoying Phillies baseball.”
Peanut Allergy Sufferers: As the big sister of a guy who used to be severely allergic to peanuts, I know it can be difficult to avoid nuts, especially in the setting of a ballpark. The Toronto Blue Jays don’t want this to be a reason a person misses out on the game of baseball. They will have 19 “Peanut/Nut Reduced” games this season. This means that specific suites will be thoroughly cleaned and reserved for families affected by nut allergies. No peanut products will be allowed inside these areas, and a special menu will be provided for fans seated in this section. Props to you, Toronto.
Everyone Else: If you’re still not convinced that baseball has something to offer you, consider that Boy Scout day, teacher appreciation night, Oktoberfest, autism awareness day, law enforcement officer appreciation night, Pride night, Bruce Lee appreciation day, American patriotism celebrations, nights of faith/fellowship, and senior citizen recognitions will all be happening this baseball season.
My question for you now is this: What are you waiting for? It’s Opening Day. America’s pastime is officially in full swing, and that is something worth commemorating. Baseball is a game that has something to offer for everyone, so start celebrating Opening Day like it was meant for you, because it is. Happy baseball season!
Written by Savanna