It's finally here. After months of waiting and another long offseason, Opening Day has arrived.
That's what we would be saying if the COVID-19 outbreak hadn't forced the cancellation or delay of practically every sporting event, including Major League Baseball Opening Day.
Every year this is a day to look forward to. It's a day of new beginnings, hope and happiness. Every team starts out even with a chance to make this year their time to shine.
This year we'll have to wait a while longer to get to the real Opening Day, but in the spirit of would-be Opening Day, let's take a look at some of the best season-opening Braves games in recent history.
2009: Jordan Schafer hits a home run in first career at bat
Jordan Schafer's career got off to a promising start in 2009 when he took Brett Myers deep in the top of the second inning in his first career at bat. The Braves' starting centerfielder hadn't played at a level higher than Double-A before making his Opening Day start, so he was out to prove himself early on.
Schafer ended the game 2-for-3 with a walk. He led the team in total bases in the game with five, as the Braves went on to win 4-1 over the Phillies. With Philadelphia coming off a World Series championship the year before, this was quite the win on the first day of the season.
Unfortunately for Schafer, that momentum didn't last long. He finished the year batting .204 with just two home runs and eight RBIs.
2010: Jason Heyward hits a home run in first career at bat
There's a bit of a theme with these first two games. 20-year-old Jason Heyward was the top prospect in all of baseball when he made his debut with the Braves in 2010. He didn't waste any time showing why.
Heyward stepped up to the plate against Carlos Zambrano in the bottom of the first inning with the score already 3-3. After taking two pitches out of the zone, Heyward made contact on the 2-0 pitched and launched it into right field, driving in three runs in the process.
The Braves went on to win the game 16-5 over the Cubs and unlike Schafer, Heyward kept it up all season long. He finished the year batting .277 with 18 home runs and 72 RBIs. He made the NL All-Star team in his rookie year, but was ultimately robbed of Rookie of the Year honors by Giants catcher Buster Posey.
Freeman goes 3-for-4 in win over Phillies
Anytime you beat the Phillies is a good time. Getting a win over them on Opening Day to start the season is even better.
The Braves were coming off a Wild Card berth the previous year while the Phillies had missed the playoffs for the first time since 2006. There was a lot to like about this Braves team, including the addition of the Upton brothers in the outfield.
But the start of this Opening Day game was Freddie Freeman. The Braves' first baseman went 3-for-4 on the day with a home run and three RBIs. The Braves would go on to win their first division title since 2005, finishing the year 96-66.
Markakis walk-off homer
Like I said, wins against the Phillies are always fun. Even more so when they're historic.
The Braves were trending upwards in 2018. They had put together the core pieces they needed to contend, but no one really expected them to quite yet.
The first game of the season might have changed some opinions. Trailing 5-0 against Philadelphia in the bottom of the sixth inning, Freddie Freeman hit a two-run homer to give the offense some life.
That was followed by three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, including a solo home run by Ozzie Albies.
The Braves were able to stop the Phillies from plating anymore runs, and the game went into the bottom of the ninth tied 5-5. With two men on and no outs, Nick Markakis launched a 1-1 pitch to centerfield, sealing the deal on the Braves' largest Opening Day comeback in team history.
Markakis went on to become an All-Star for the first time in his career in 2018, batting .297 with 93 RBIs. The Braves won the NL East for the first time since 2013, turning things around after a long five-year rebuild.
No one knows when or how this year's Opening Day will take place given the current situation. But one thing you can be sure of, is the Braves will provide plenty of entertainment. Whether it's a rookie hitting a home run in his first at bat, or a veteran coming up with a clutch walk-off, Opening Day games are always among the most exciting.
Matthew Atkins, Journalist and Baseball fan.