For longtime Orioles fan Phil Jacoby Sr., spring doesn’t start until opening day at Camden Yards.

Over the last 22 years, Jacoby has missed just one home opener. He’s been a dedicated fan for longer. And on Friday, there he was again, donning an orange cap and an Orioles jersey, cheering on his team as they beat the New York Yankees 7-6 in a packed stadium of 45,017 fans.

Jacoby sat along with his children, who said a love of baseball and of opening day had been “instilled” in them. Jules Jacoby, 22, had been to every opening day since she was born, except for four. Phil Jacoby Jr., 18, had been to all of them except for two.

“We don’t go to church, we go see baseball games,” Jules said.

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Tom Corbitt is also a regular at home openers. He hasn’t missed a single one since he was 10 years old, he said.

This year, Corbitt feels the team could come close to getting into the World Series, and return to its “glory days” in the ‘60s and ‘70s. He is especially excited about the team’s younger players — catcher Adley Rutschman, shortstop Gunnar Henderson and starting pitcher Grayson Rodriguez — as well as prospects that could be called up from the ballclub’s top-ranked farm system.

In addition to the start of a new season of baseball, Orioles fans also experienced new rules. They proved controversial to fans at opening day, who shared strong opinions about how they changed the timing and strategy of the game.

For one, the league added a pitch clock. The pitcher has to deliver the ball in 15 seconds with the bases empty and 20 seconds with a runner on base. The batter must step in the box with 8 seconds left on the clock.

Sophie Marano, 16, and her mother Nicole Marano, said they both loved the pitch clock. Before, games felt long, and the change made the game feel “a lot faster,” they said.

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Mike Stierstorfer, 34, agreed.

“Players don’t need that much time to walk around, call their mother, tie their shoes,” he said. “You have to keep the game moving.”

A faster game may keep newer fans more engaged, he added, so that they will keep coming back to the stadium.

Sullivan Simpkins, 8, had a much different opinion. “It’s horrible!” he exclaimed.

“Why would you make the game shorter?” he asked. “The longer the baseball game, the longer you can have fun!”

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Jacoby Sr. opposed the rule because baseball is supposed to be watched slowly. The sport, he said, is complex, “a lot like a chess game.”

“The longer you watch it the more you understand,” he added. “It’s meant to be taken slow.”

Fans were also split on the ban of defensive shifts, which requires teams to keep two infielders on each side of second base. Jacoby Sr. didn’t like the change.

“I’m a traditionalist,” he said. Removing defensive shifts takes away some of the strategy. Baseball is fundamentally a sport where the defense controls the ball, he said.

Other fans, though, said they are glad to be rid of the shifts, saying they took away chances for more base hits and action on the base paths. Lynn DiMarcantonio, who was decked out in an Orioles chain, Orioles jersey, Orioles hat and Orioles jacket, said, “They took away the game.”

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cadence.quaranta@thebaltimorebanner.com

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