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A New National Holiday, and Other Opening Day Story Lines

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I can't wait. You can't wait. Why can't this be a national holiday? We've got plenty already, so we'd probably need to erase one from the calendar to compensate. I vote for President's Day. (I usually work that day, anyway.) Make Opening Day fall on a Friday, and voila, a three-day weekend to make up for the loss of the President's Day weekend. Those who complain about losing a crucial ski weekend, well, there's just as likely to be snow at the end of March/beginning of April, no?

The other cool thing about a national Opening Day holiday is it would force all the teams to actually open on the same day. How stupid is it that all those fans have to wait 24 hours?

Coverage today will be dominated by the protests and demonstrations in favor of this new national holiday, of course -- we might have to establish a no-fly zone to pin down Bud Selig's toupee -- but there are a few other story lines to watch for:

- Brandon Belt vs. Clayton Kershaw. Unfairly or not, the Giants have turned today into Brandon Belt Day. (Sorry, not yet a national holiday.) The game's outcome will be secondary to scrutinizing every pitch Belt faces, every swing he takes: Is he nervous? Is he ready? Is he overmatched? Casual tea-leaf readers will put great significance on his four at-bats today.

- The bullpen. Unless he's ultra-efficient, Tim Lincecum won't throw a complete game today. It's highly likely the bullpen will play a crucial role if the game is close in the late innings. Again, small sample size, but the outcome will set the tone for the non-Brian Wilson week ahead. It seems Wilson is ticketed to rejoin the team next week in San Diego, but youneverknow. A bullpen meltdown will add a bit of pressure for that oblique to get better faster.

Non-Giants division: The return of Justin Morneau. Concussions are the unfairest injury. You can't put a splint or a cast or a walking boot on someone's brain. Well, maybe you can. But you know what I mean. One moment, you're making your typical slide into second base to break up a double play, the next moment, your noggin's been rewired and you can't stand up quickly without puking. And that goes on, in various permutations, for months. I wasn't a massive Mike Matheny fan, but one of the worst Giant stories of the past decade was his retirement due to concussions. He was in great shape, he probably could have played five or seven more years as a glove-first catcher or grizzled backup. Cruel fate. Let's all take a moment to wish Twins first baseman Morneau a safe, dizzy-free Opening Day.

Oh, by the way: You're welcome.

What story lines are you watching intently? Please share.

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