MIKE BURKE

Allegany Communications Sports

The saddest words in the King’s English have long been “No game today,” particularly when they are used in late October or early November soon after the World Series has been completed.

Still, even though this is the just the first week of April, the words are out, at least they are in Baltimore, as the Orioles announced Wednesday afternoon there will be no game today, which is significant since today’s game was to be the Orioles’ home opener, marking the unstated but understood annual Baltimore holiday known as Opening Day, the absolute best day of the calendar year. In fact, Opening Day should be a national holiday if you want to know the truth of it.

Still, as disappointing as this news would seem to be, there is always a silver lining to every dark cloud – and apparently there are going to be a lot of those today.

“(Thursday’s) home opener at Oriole Park at Camden Yards has been postponed due to the forecast of severe inclement weather,” read the Orioles’ announcement. “The game will be made up on Friday, April 7 at 3:05 p.m.”

Friday was previously open on the Orioles’ schedule for just such a possibility of bad weather. Tickets for today will be valid Friday, and those unable to attend on Friday can exchange their tickets at Orioles.com/MyAccount; exchanges, though, must be completed before 1 p.m. today.

Did we mention the Orioles will play the New York Yankees on Friday? Well, that hasn’t mattered in Bawlmer, hon, since 1977 when Reggie Jackson returned to town as a Yankee after single-handedly screwing up the Orioles’ 1976 season as a member of the Orioles.

No, it doesn’t matter who the Orioles’ opponent is on Opening Day because everybody is going to be there anyway. You don’t go to work in Baltimore on the day the Orioles come home from the winter and play their first home game. You go to the ballpark, and before that you go to the downtown intersection of Russell Street and Washington Boulevard and you party with a couple thousand of your new best friends at Sliders (great Greek food), Pickles Pub, or at the other bars and pubs in the neighborhood.

My friends and I have been to most of the Orioles’ home openers since 1981. Matter of fact, when she taught in Glen Burnie, my sainted mother, God rest her soul, went to the very first game the Orioles played in Baltimore in 1954 (there was no school that day). She went to the parade prior to that, as the city welcomed the former St. Louis Browns to Baltimore, and then she went to the first game. So the Orioles, and Opening Day in Baltimore, have always been kind of a thing for all of us.

Naturally, we grew up at Memorial Stadium, the former home of the Orioles and the Colts on East 33rd Street. Then, in 1979, when the famous Washington attorney Edward Bennett Williams bought the O’s, the air turned restless with talk of a new stadium for the Orioles being necessary to keep the team in Baltimore and out of the dirty clutches of front-running D.C.

But most of us did not want a new home for the Orioles. We loved Memorial Stadium and we took it personally when it was said it was no longer good enough; because to us, that was the same as saying Baltimore was not good enough.

Memorial Stadium, in that splendid neighborhood of Waverly, was our home, and with the way Orioles attendance began to soar, EBW soon began to understand that Baltimore did not want a new home and he would relent, himself falling in love with the charm of what was once known as the World’s Largest Outdoor Insane Asylum.

Time, however, refuses to stand still, and after the unthinkable departure of the beloved Colts, EBW and William Donald Schaefer, first as Baltimore’s mayor and then as governor of Maryland, championed the funding of the two-stadium complex now known as Camden Yards. It kept the Orioles in town and eventually brought the Cleveland Browns, where they would become the Ravens.

Certainly, we have learned to grow very, very fond and proud of Oriole Park, the ballpark that changed ballparks forever when it opened in 1992. But you never get over your first true love, and for many of us that first love remains Memorial Stadium.

Nonetheless, Camden Yards remains an absolute gem, and thank God it is the baseball season.

At this time of the year, all baseball fans are filled with curiosity and anticipation. A long, wondrous adventure awaits, even though for most of us, the baseball season will end with unfulfilled promise; but that’s okay, too – gives us something to talk about for the rest of the winter. And to anticipate again.

In the end, there is only one winner in baseball, but each new season and the day-to-day 162-game journey is worth every step of the way, as it provides memories and joys of a lifetime during every season.

So, Happy Opening Day to Baltimore on Friday, particularly to the person who places the orange scarf on the statue of our hero Brooks Robinson at the intersection of Russell and Washington Boulevard every Opening Day.

Like the annual glass of cognac and the toast at the grave of Edgar Allan Poe, it’s a Bawlmer thing, hon. And when it’s the baseball season in Baltimore, there is only one toast to give — Ain’t the beer cold!

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT