I always try to control my emotions whenever I step onto a baseball field. I have a job to do, and I want to accomplish it. Yes, baseball is a game, but I love to compete and I take my job seriously.
But on Opening Day, I do let go for a few minutes to really feel the energy around me. You feel like a rock star in some ways. You are a big leaguer in a city that loves you, and you feel like your fans have faith you are going to go 162-0. The energy in the ballpark is amazing.
I remember 2007, when we opened the season in Philly, then played the Marlins in their home opener and then played the Mets in their home opener. Three home openers in one week. It was crazy. It was special, because if you didn't enjoy the first one, you got a chance to enjoy the next two. It's just great to see the excitement in each city because each fan base on that day feels like they have a chance to win that year.
But it was particularly great for me, because I started 2006 in the Minor Leagues before getting called up that May. So now I had made the team out of Spring Training and I knew I was going to be part of the team the entire year. It was a tremendous accomplishment. But then every year you play, you realize how special it is. Not a lot of people get the opportunity to play in the big leagues, so when you get the chance to see the excitement surrounding the game on Opening Day, it motivates you. You have worked so hard for so long, and during those pregame introductions, you remember what it's all about. It's a great reminder.
Yes, you're a player, but you're also a fan.
I remember Opening Day in 2009, when we raised the 2008 World Series championship flag in center field. You knew how much it meant to the city. It was the start of what you might call our dynasty. Fans had wanted this so bad. The organization had been pushing hard to develop a winning team for so long. It was a little more than a decade since we had last made the postseason and nearly 30 years since we had last won a World Series. To finally see everything come together, to raise that flag and then to get our rings that week, it was awesome. We accomplished something special, and we had the confidence we could make it happen again. We felt it. We felt like we were going to do it again. We felt like we were going to go back to back.
Opening Day is great, and I'm sure this one will be no different. Everybody is 0-0, and everybody believes they have a chance to win.
Cole Hamels is a starting pitcher for the Phillies. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.