Here I am, in the Miller Park press box, just like Opening Day last year, and every year since the early 2000s (and before that, I sat in the stands as a fan).
Now I’m watching the seats start to fill up, as Robb Edwards announces this very new Brewers team. People are clapping, of course, but of the 44,000 people in attendance, not many know who these guys are.
Consider this: After Ryan Bryan, the longest-tenured player on the Brewers is Wily Peralta. For position players … it’s Hernan Perez.
There are nine players playing their first opening day.
Sitting next to me is my old friend, Mario Ziino, who has worked for the Brewers in several capacities since 1978.
I ask him if this kind of Brewers rebuilding is unprecedented in the team’s history. He says yes.
"It’s phenomenal," he says, shaking his head.
But think about it. The Brewers lost 89 games in 2016, finishing 30.5 behind the Cubs. Then they got rid of Chris Carter, Martin Maldonado and Tyler Thornburg.
Is there anywhere to go but up?
For me, a fan who’s been pretty die-hard since 1994 – one who went to 18 consecutive spring trainings – I took a little break from following the team last year. It was kind of nice, actually. I had an unusual amount of time on my hands during the 162 games I’d otherwise be watching or listening to.
But now, it’s a fresh start. The Brewers had a winning record in the Cactus League (and that matters more than you think). Will they win more games than last year? Mario says he doesn’t know. "It’ll be tough. Everything is going to predicate on the pitching."
But does it matter? This is baseball, and it’s back.
Now … a polite smattering of applause for Eric Thames. It’s almost a little funny. The seats are filled, and it’s pretty quiet.
Hey, winter is over. Baseball will hold our hands for the next six months. Let’s not overthink it, and just enjoy it for what it is.