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Ah, Opening Day for the 2021 Washington Nationals...

It’s finally here. Opening Day!

It seems like ages we’ve collectively waited for this day. The grass is cut, the vendors are opening (to limited folks), and it’ll be a moderately chilly day for a ballgame — one that counts, and is in front of people!

The Washington Nationals square off against the new-look New York Mets for an April 1st Opening Day matchup. But it’s no April Fool’s Day joke (we think) and baseball will truly be played in front of a group of people who aren’t players or team personnel.

This day means a lot to a lot of people. I would speculate that many around the sport think Opening Day should be classified as a national holiday. We’re unlikely to see that type of special treatment come around, but to those of who are so heartily invested in the sport, the first day of games carries that kind of weight.

Thanks to the pandemic, we all had to sit idle on the sidelines, waiting for baseball to return. When it did, it was without fanfare because there weren’t any fans there. I think the question I’ll be asking tomorrow is, “Is this normal?” I guess it depends on how you define normal. Under “normal conditions” most ballparks would be sold out with little room to move on the concourse. But tomorrow, fans will be separated (except in Texas, it seems) and people will be required to wear face coverings.

Much of the accessorizing that has sprung up because of COVID is starting to become normal. Where I live, there’s no longer a mask mandate and it’s becoming increasingly common to see folks inside of businesses, grocery stores, or the like without donning face masks. Being the diligent character I am, I dutifully strap on my mask and proceed like it’s business as usual. But in those conditions, you’re reminded that there is — was? — another reality we all once lived in.

So, when tomorrow comes, we’ll experience normal — some type of normal, anyway. No, it’s not the dystopian, government infringement that some outlets want you to think it is, nor is it the obviously altruistic and good-natured governmental oversight that other outlets will have you believe that it is. Very simply, it is what it is — for now.

And unlike last year, when the games begin again, will it even matter? Will we even think of it? After all, baseball’s back, and much of what I see are signs pointing towards normalcy.

When Max Scherzer takes to the mound to face off against Jacob deGrom, none of it will matter. That’s a luxury mindset, certainly, but it’s important to find respite from the everyday we experience now; or, if you’re more like me, things seem okay for the time being and you can simply sit back and enjoy some baseball.

Game 1 of 162 starts today. The Nationals have a long way to go to capture the division.

It’s nice that they’re beginning the season with one of their potential roadblocks. It’s an appetizer for things to come.