Obviously, Opening Day is always special for any baseball player. The season typically goes by quickly, and the offseason goes by even quicker. Then you come to Spring Training and you go through your work and get to know your teammates and everyone gets really excited come the first day of spring. And then the next really exciting thing is Opening Day.
Just getting back to playing in front of fans again and knowing the season is underway is always very exciting, and that's what we prepare for all offseason.
One of my favorite memories from an Opening Day was 2012, when the Mariners and Oakland A's opened up in Tokyo, and we got to play in front of the Japanese crowd. It was an incredible time -- all the way from the traveling to experiencing that with our families and teammates to playing in front of 50,000-plus Japanese fans, knowing how big baseball is across the world. That was certainly a memorable Opening Day for me.
Opening Day in Seattle, running in from right-center field, they roll out the red carpet and all the season-ticket holders get to wave the flags. Running all the way from right to home plate and just hearing the roar of the crowd, it's a very exciting time, and it certainly gets you pumped up to play baseball.
Every Opening Day at home is special, for that reason. You get that home crowd involved, and they're always excited. As soon as the season finishes, baseball fans in your city are always excited to get the next season underway, and Opening Day really exemplifies that and how much support you have from your fans.
As a kid growing up in Victoria, B.C., I didn't have Opening Days. I played all sorts of different sports growing up, so one sport kind of led to another. There was never really an offseason for me. I didn't really consider it much of an Opening Day. It was more, "Hey, the sun is out, and it's baseball season. When it's all rainy and wet, that means it's hockey season for me."
The night before Opening Day, for me anyway, I'm definitely a little nervous and the butterflies are going. You just know another season is underway and you want to get off to a strong start. You want to definitely win that opener. I guess everyone has a different opinion on it, but I think it's because I'm so excited that I start getting get a little nervous and the butterflies start going.
After the ceremony, whether it be a flyover or a big flag in center field, as soon as you step in that box or as soon as the first pitch is thrown, it's back to business and the butterflies kind of go away a little bit. But Opening Day is one of my favorite days of the year.
Michael Saunders is an outfielder for the Seattle Mariners.