It probably wasn't until 2007 or 2008 when I finally came back around. By then, I was able to walk to games from school, usually able to find incredibly cheap tickets on the day of the game, and had friends who enjoyed watching the Red Sox in the playoffs in October. The combination of easier access, a longer attention span, not having to ask for money to buy snacks, and actually seeing good baseball for a change somehow made it all work. Within a few years, baseball, and the Pirates, have quickly climbed to the top of my entertainment/recreation food-chain (how's that for a combination of metaphors?)
Which leads us to today...the best day of the year! (Unless the Pirates win the World Series in November, but I'll worry about that later). Baseball's Opening Day is an event that the other sports just can't match. The NHL and NBA are almost nauseating as they get started, knowing that (because so many teams make the playoffs) games won't be meaningful at all until months later. Football's opening weekend is exciting, but the sport is so fragmented throughout the week that there's no clear "opening moment". Besides, football arrives just as the trees start dying and weather gets cold and all the kids go back to school. It's a sport associated with something ending. Baseball, on the other hand, arrives shortly after the first week of Spring, and invites the audience to start thinking of summer. The Opening Day of Baseball is like that first day of summer vacation when the entire expanse lays out before you. Even though plans, and setbacks, and life will quickly get in the way, the beginning is something incredibly optimistic. Even the worst teams, ones destined for 100 losses are excited on opening day...because maybe...just maybe...they'll surprise people. Maybe they'll pull off a win in the first game, or win the first series. Maybe they'll put on a show that hadn't been expected.
As for me, I'm just excited to have my summer-hangout back in action. After 60 trips to the ballpark last season, I'm on mission to like Roger Maris to break at least 61. April promises to be chilly (especially today) and the Pirates usually get off to a slow start...but at least they're playing again. In just a few weeks, the school year will wrap up, and the Pirates and summer will truly arrive.