You know, there really is no such thing as Opening Day anymore.
Back in the day, every team in the Majors started their season on the same day, and the Cincinnati Reds were always the team that had the honor of hosting the very first game of the season. It was tradition, and while I tend to be open to changing tradition when it comes to baseball, this is one tradition I wish hadn't gone away.
When the Phillies open their season against the Reds in Cincinnati today, they won't be the first team starting the season. In fact, the season didn't even start today. It started on Sunday, with three games taking place, culminating in a rematch of last year's World Series match-up.
Hey look, I get it. Major League Baseball doesn't want to butt heads with the NCAA National Title game, and getting the stage to themselves on Sunday night, with a Mets vs. Royals rematch, is pretty darn cool. But it still feels like the "national holiday" aspect of Opening Day has gone by the wayside.
Nevertheless, the Phillies and Reds, two of the worst teams in baseball, will take the field. And even though Opening Day has lost a bit of its luster in recent years, it still brings back memories.
The Phillies have a 63-68-2 record on Opening Days, losing last year's season opener to the Boston Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park 8-0. It was a sign of things to come, and not the first time the Phils had their lunch handed to them in the first game of the season.
But before we depress ourselves with the numerous Opening Day defeats, let's focus on the positive. Perhaps their most unexpected and surprising Opening Day victory came in 2011, thanks to a miracle comeback against the Houston Astros in which they singled closer Brandon Lyon to death.
Death by a thousand paper cuts.
One of the most memorable Opening Days in team history took place at the start of one of the most memorable seasons the city has ever seen. The Phils opened their season against the Astros in Houston in 1993, with Terry Mulholland taking the mound.
If you have a few hours to kill, re-watch this classic from '93, when Mulholland emphatically shut down the Astros 3-1. The Phils would go on to sweep that series, start the season 17-5 and, well, you know.
And who can forget 2014 as the Phils, a team that came into the season with very little hope and clearly on the downslope of their glory years, somehow waxed the Rangers in Texas 14-10?
Man, John Mayberry Jr. played for this team for a long time.
Of course, there were many years in which the Phillies, much like this one, entered a season in which they had no hope of going to the postseason. But most of those seasons had an impending sense of dread surrounding it, with no real rebuilding plan, or young talent on the farm ready to hit the Majors anytime soon.
For a while there, all we had was Curt Schilling on Opening Day, like in 1997 when he blanked the Dodgers in a shutout, 3-0. That was the highlight of the season, as the team finished 68-94 that year.
There were also so many bad, long, seemingly unending Opening Days. Like in 2006 when Jon Lieber made the second of his two Opening Day starts and got blasted by the St. Louis Cardinals 13-5. In fact, the list of Phils recent Opening Day starters offers some good trivia.
In 2001, Omar Daal started Opening Day for the Phils. Andy Ashby opened the season the year before. Cole Hamels did not make an Opening Day start for the Phillies until 2013. In 1996, it was the revived corpse of Sid Fernandez.
And Bruce Ruffin, Floyd Youmans, and Shane Rawley all started Opening Days for the Phillies in the post-Steve Carlton era. You would not be blamed if you had blocked those events from your mind.
This year, you get Jeremy Hellickson, who almost certainly will be a name to add to this list a decade from now. He goes up against another name you wouldn't expect to make an Opening Day start, Raisel Iglesias.
Will it be a slugfest? Will it be a pitcher's duel? Will the Phils find a way to bank the first of what is likely to be few victories this season? Or will they get their hats handed to them?
We've seen it all on Opening Day as Phillies fans. Even if today isn't technically "Opening Day."