On Opening Day, you're rewarded for putting in the time during Spring Training. You're excited because it's a new season. I have a love-hate relationship with it. I love it because a season is starting, a new season is starting. But the reason I don't like it is because you have to follow a routine -- you go stand in the line, do all that stuff and you just want to get that first game out of the way.
But after Opening Day, you can get into your normal routine -- wake up in the morning, have your breakfast and do everything else that is a part of your regular day.
My first Opening Day in 2003 stands out a little bit over the others. Oakland was always a really cool Opening Day because the place was filled. That was before they had the tarps on the (top level of seats in the) ballpark. It's a great time, because there are people there who are excited about A's baseball, and we were coming off of being in the playoffs and having a really good team. There were big expectations that year.
Another favorite of mine was Opening Day in Japan in 2008 against the Red Sox, facing Daisuke Matsuzaka. Just having the experience of going to Japan, playing in front of the people over there, facing Dice-K, that was a pretty cool experience, too. I also hit a home run in my first at-bat of the season there, so that stands out.
It is a different atmosphere in Japan than it is playing here. They love baseball and are enthusiastic, but they are also extremely respectful. We played some exhibition games over there, and when we were hitting, they were silent. You could hear a pin drop. Then when their team came out, they would have all the different cheers and chants that they would do for their players. It's a neat environment.
I've heard that they're going to bring out the Clydesdales in St. Louis. I know St. Louis is a special place on Opening Day. I know every place tries to do something that is different.
In Los Angeles, the Dodgers bring out the stars. They bring out all the Hollywood people. That's what the town is. The first year I was there, it was a big deal because Magic Johnson had just become a part of the ownership group. Last year was cool; they had Sandy Koufax throw out the first pitch.
I know Cincinnati is special, too, since the Reds start the season there every year. But I am looking forward to being in St. Louis and enjoying the show that they put on there because I heard it is pretty special. I think it will be fun to see.
Mark Ellis is an infielder for the St. Louis Cardinals.