Sitting on the bench, and waiting ... that's what comes to mind on Opening Day. There is nothing like it. The stadium surrounds you and all you can see and hear is how you feel: sweaty, panicked, nauseous and light-headed.
Personally, I try to stay centered and focused, usually to no avail. I focus on keeping both cleats on the ground. It helps remind me that I am here in this moment, in this dugout, and I am here for a reason.
All you hear are the names and cheers. Finally, they call your name, and you exit the dugout and see red. The red in the stands envelops you. The color is perfect for that moment because of the color's natural passion.
Giving high fives to the team and shaking hands along the line is something else that is synonymous with Opening Day to me. Making contact and touching everyone represents the unity we have while we play together. We play for the uniform and city we represent, but first and foremost we play for each other. Being accountable to your teammate trumps every selfish inclination we all have as players.
The anthem plays, the first pitch is thrown out, and we get ready for the game. But this is not any game, this is the first game of the year. Much of the energy that surrounds Opening Day for us ballplayers centers on the unknown. The unknown of this game or even this season begins with Opening Day. We as ballplayers fall into the wonderful world of action. No longer do we sit and wait, hope, and fear. We have action as our ally against the demons we fight inside, and Opening Day is the day where we get to finally be what we prepared for.
However, there is one day that is remembered and special throughout the regular season and that is Opening Day in Cincinnati. We as a group look forward to Opening Day because of the experience, but more so for what it represents: that Cincinnati Reds baseball is back.
Joey Votto is the first baseman for the Cincinnati Reds. He is entering his eighth season with the team. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.