The Zak Zone

Last week, I wrote about the fact that some things never seem to change, as witnessed at a wiffle ball game in my great-grandmother's backyard.

This week, I'm unfortunately writing about the fact that some things are just bound to change.

Some change, I must admit, is a good thing. But in some sports, it just seems like they're trying to mess with my nostalgic remembrance of the way things ought to be.

One area in which I've noticed a reasonable change this year is in one of my favorite holidays: Opening Day of the Major League Baseball season.

This morning, I awoke and groggily turned on my television set, as I commonly do in the morning as a part of my waking ritual.

I typically tune the television to Mike and Mike on ESPN2 to catch up on the latest in sports news — research for work, I call it — while pretending it might be possible to fall back asleep.

Thinking I was dreaming, I heard the guys talking about the Major League debut game — one between the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo — heading into extra innings. They explained that they would continue to update us on the game's status.

Wiping my eyes and trying to focus for a closer look, I was unable to figure out what was going on until I pulled out my iPod and checked.

Little did I know, Major League Baseball's season was underway in a game that started at 6 a.m. EST. I had unknowingly slept through Opening Day.

Even if I had wanted to watch the opener, I later discovered the game wasn't even nationally televised, except for a delayed airing on MLB Network.

I have many great memories of Opening Days past. At times, I have been at PNC Park for the season debut, while other times, I have watched with friends or family who also look forward to the season's opening.

But on other occasions, I have holed up in my living room awaiting the start of the season, usually sometime right after lunch, with a bag of chips and my remote.

I'd flip back and forth between stations taking in the glory of multiple televised games.

What the heck has happened to the sport — and the opening day — I have loved so much?

The season opened in Tokyo, millions of miles away, in the middle of the night, while the majority of the nation known for keeping baseball as its pastime slept through it.

Something has gone horribly wrong with Opening Day. It's lost its nostalgia.

But that won't stop me from tuning in on what I still consider Opening Day.

Today, possibly before you read this article, Day No. 2 of the MLB season will be in the books.

The Mariners and Athletics will play the second of their two-game series overseas, and the nation will wait almost an entire week before the next "regular" season pitch is thrown.

Next Wednesday night, the Cardinals and Marlins will kick off the stateside campaign with a 7 p.m. contest — a marketing ploy, and one I'm certain will work to force baseball fans to tune in early for the first pitch of the MLB season.

"But wait, didn't that happen last week?," we'll ask ourselves as the commercials try to convince us we need to tune in.

The Opening Day I'm excited for, though, will take place Thursday, eight full days after the season "officially" started, when the Pirates take on the Phillies, and the television schedule is full of afternoon and evening games.

Luckily, the bigwigs at MLB have no say-so over opening day for the local season, which took place Monday in Punxsutawney — although Mother Nature looked to have her own say.

Blustery wind gusts and seasonable temperatures caught observers a bit off guard after weeks of better-than-usual weather, but the weather didn't stop Punxsy fans from supporting their baseball and softball teams and cheering them on to a pair of victories over Bradford.

The weather was a bit nicer Tuesday for the home openers for boys' tennis and the track teams, and again the supporters of Chucks' athletics were out in full force.

While MLB looks to "improve foreign relations" in hopes of becoming the world's next super power, Punxsy athletics quietly goes about its business, thriving on the local level.

Now, I'll always love Major League Baseball, even if my Pirates never have another winning season. But it sure is good to know that some things — like Punxsy's loyalty to its sports teams — really never will change.