I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I first heard the news.
Having just gotten back from my morning run, I sat down to negate every last one of those miles with a stack of waffles that would make any grown man quiver. It was then when I got a Twitter notification that quite honestly, shook me to my very core.
The Brewers’ 2020 Opening Day has been canceled.
I had to re-read it a few times to make sure that what I was seeing was real.
That notion was confirmed when I got an email seconds later from the Brewers Ticket Office letting me know my Opening Day tickets would be refunded.
Pain. Absolute pain.
While there had been some doubts as to whether or not the season would go on following a Spring Training that was anything but normal. The Astros cheating scandal, the contentious league vs. players dispute, and COVID come to mind. I somehow convinced myself that it would get better and figure itself all out before the season started. It had to, right? Right?!
Oof, unfortunately, I wasn’t so sure anymore.
For as long as I can remember, the start of baseball signified the beginning of spring. A new beginning. A fresh start.
Annual trips down to Arizona for Spring Training and Opening Day were a tradition, a holiday, my Christmas morning. I grew up at the ballpark. With a hot dog in one hand and a glove on the other, I learned the intricacies of the game, the players, and the teams. By the age of seven, I could name off stats for every Milwaukee Brewer from 1991-96.
I’m sure we all have a unique story (or stories) of how we fell in love with the Brewers, which honestly, is just another testament to how incredible this organization is. And why they should be voted in as the Best MLB Fan Base.
But I digress.
To say I love the game, and this team, is an understatement.
It’s a part of who I am, deeply woven into the fabric of my life.
When I got the news that the Brewers’ Opening Day game was canceled and that the rest of the season was in flux, I was heartbroken. And yes, I know how trivial this all may seem in the grand scheme of everything that was and is still currently happening in our country. The health and safety of the players, staff, fans, and everyone involved in the game will always be the most important priority.
But baseball has always been more than just a game for me.
Like all sports, it’s a major distraction and a source of comfort. It’s something that transcends differences and disputes, political affiliations, and religious beliefs. More importantly, it gives people, it gives me, something to hope for and believe in.
Especially when everything else around us seems uncertain.
And there’s power in that.
From a distance, we’re talking about games again and the promise of a season to be played with fewer caveats and more reasonable stakes. But we’re not so far removed from that strange rupture last March that it isn’t worth reflecting on.
Looking back a year after the pandemic changed everything, including America’s favorite pastime, I feel this immense amount of gratitude.
I’m also reminded of the sheer resiliency that we as humans all possess.
There were no shortages of challenges, hardships, and problems that were thrown our way in 2020. But instead of backing down or giving up, we persevered.
In more ways than one.
For the MLB and Milwaukee Brewers, it meant figuring out a way to play safe, implementing and following strict health and safety protocols. It also meant adjusting to a “new normal.” Part of this included a shortened season, a new schedule, and the absolute blasphemy that is the DH (I KNOW!!!). Of course, I’m leaving out the most obvious of them all, no fans.
I won’t be the first to admit that it was a season unlike any other, but it was a season nonetheless.
The world had baseball in a time when I thought that was only a pipedream.
We also were able to learn from this experience, finding better ways to keep players, organizations, and fans safe while still enjoying the game we all love. And we will be able to take those lessons into this next year.
The Brewers will open American Family Field to fans on April 1 for an Opening Day matchup with the Minnesota Twins. This will be the first game held in Milwaukee since the final home game of the 2019 season at what was then Miller Park.
I still get goosebumps every time I read that.
And while things may be a little different than you remember the last time you cheered on the crew in Milwaukee, one thing remains the same: Brewers fans will bring an unparalleled level of excitement, warmth, energy, and love that only we can.
I was fortunate enough to take in a few Spring Training games in Arizona earlier this month and would be lying if I said I didn’t get emotional. Travis Shaw can attest to this as we shared a bit of a moment before the game. Or maybe that was just in my head.
Heaven. I was in actual heaven.
Not only were the fans excited to be there, but you could tell that the players were as well.
It seemed like the Brewers were a whole new team.
A better team.
One that was positioned to play hard, to play with heart, and to have some fun this year.
Baseball is back.
And so are we. Or at least we’re getting there. And that is something to raise our glasses to.
Cheers to a great season, Brewers fans! And if you see me at AmFam Field, come over and say hi! I’d love to buy you a beer.
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