I finally got around to reading Cait Murphy's wonderful Crazy '08, about the remarkable and often anarchic 1908 baseball season, which the author claims is baseball's greatest year. While, unfortunately, the Cubs are one of the foci of the book, the action nonetheless stops off in Cincinnati:
... Cincinnati, where there have been Opening Days since 1869. The town does this one proud. A clothing firm distributes paper megaphones in different colors, creating a kaleidoscope of color and undulating waves of sound. The mayor makes a speech and throws out a ceremonial ball. Both fall short. The Palace of the Fans, tarted up in 1902 to look like an Ohio version of a Greek temple, with Egyptian details, hosts the biggest crowd in its history (more than nineteen thousand fans). Fortified by beer, whiskey, pigs' knuckles, wienerwurst, and the occasional lemonade, the spectators are treated to a corker of a ballgame.
Has anything changed fundamentally about Opening Day in Cincinnati? Megaphones have become rally sticks and pigs' knuckles are eaten in hot dog form, but otherwise the city welcomes baseball back with the same warm welcome each year.
A more important difference about the 2011 season vs. the 1908 (or the 2009, for that matter), is that fans can reasonably expect their enthusiasm to extend past the first game of the season and deep into the summer. Hopes are meant to be dashed, but Opening Day is a holiday of indulgencess - in food, drink and unreasonable expectations. Today only: 162-0 is possible and so are the weight loss properties of goetta.
Open up your Day... And keep it Open!