Stacey Long: There's no opener like an opener in Baltimore

Hello MASNsports.com readers, and welcome to my first post on this fine Web site. My name is Stacey Long and I am the editor-in-chief at CamdenChat.com. Since 2005, Camden Chat has provided daily coverage of the Baltimore Orioles that is, in my (admittedly biased) opinion, the best you'll find on the Internet. Our writers are always intelligent, often hilarious and occasionally grumpy. With statistical analysis, thoughtful commentary and an occasional inspired haiku, Camden Chat covers the Orioles from every angle. Check us out!

Today is opening day, and because there is no other day like opening day in Baltimore, the tendency is to wax poetic about the magic in the air, the palpable feeling of excitement for a new season and hope of a different result than what we've seen this decade. I understand that sentiment and I even fall victim to it. After all, the Orioles haven't given us much to be proud of the past 13 years, but on opening day that doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if they were bad last year or if they will be good this year; all that matters is that they are the Baltimore Orioles, and we love them for it.

Opening day is fantastic. Camden Yards is packed (and not with Red Sox or Yankees fans), the "O!" in the national anthem is louder than it will be all year, and fans dressed in orange and black crowd the Inner Harbor and the bars along Pratt Street. But then, almost as quickly as it began, opening day is gone, and with it go the crowds, the lead story on the news and that giddy feeling that comes with the start of the season.

For the real baseball fan, however, the joy isn't in the pomp and circumstance of opening day; it is in the constant presence of the sport. Opening day is exciting because it signals the return of an old friend, one that will be with us every day for six months. Unlike football fans that only have to gear up for one game a week, baseball weaves itself into everyday life, lodges itself into the daily routine. Get up, go to work, come home, watch baseball, go to bed, repeat.

The beauty of baseball is the comfort it brings to its fans. Perhaps the Orioles will come home to Baltimore, fresh off their sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays, and put together a shocking campaign that leads them to the playoffs. Perhaps they'll fall apart and 2011 will mark their 14th consecutive losing season. Either way, they'll be there for us every night, and we'll be there for them. And that's what makes baseball great.

Stacey Long blogs about the Orioles at Camden Chat. Read Long's Orioles observations this week, as MASNsports.com begins a season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site.

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