Welcome to Opening Day. I know the White Sox and Indians played on Sunday night, but to me that’s the equivalent of the play-in game. Today’s when baseball really starts. The season only gets officially underway when the President throws out the first pitch. It’s not quite that first Thursday-Friday of the NCAA tournament, but it’s up there.April is going to be a great month. Who is going to get a jump in the standings? What player is going to get off to that torrid start? Are homeruns going to continue to decline? Which player is going to suprise all of us with a hot start, causing a stampede to the fantasy waiver wire? Will it ever stop freakin’ raining here in Pittsburgh in time for the home opener?
There is something about afternoon baseball that just seems right. I’m not one of those purists (read: old) fans who bitch about games starting and ending too late, but there is something to be said for an afternoon in the sun with a dog and a cold one. Especially when you’re skipping school or work. There are 62 afternoon games in April this season (not even including weekends), so fans should have plenty of opportunies. Get out of the house or the office and head to the park. I noticed the governor of New York doing it, and you’ll be glad you did it, too.
We were privileged to have a handful of games on TV this afternoon, and I, making like the “Couch Slouch,” am going to attempt to watch all of them at once.
1:10 PM Aren’t the Reds always suppose to officially open the season with Bush throwing out the first pitch? Oh, well, Mets-Nationals will do. There’s nothing like a packed house at Shea.
1:37 PM I remember that I dislike Chris Berman as a play-by-play announcer when he does one of his cheesy classic rock lyric references.
2:04 Paul LoDuca shows he was a solid pick-up by the Mets when he bloops in Xavier Nady with the Mets’ first run of the season.
2:12 Pirates leadoff hitter Chris Duffy almost inspires a Major League moment when he starts the season off by legging out an infield single and nearly gets picked-off on the next pitch.
2:14 Jack Wilson cleans up the mess by hitting into the first of many 6-4-3 double plays he has in the tank.
2:21 It’s great to see “smilin’” Joe Randa with that big Joker grin back in Pittsburgh, but it’s not great to see him strike out looking with two on.
2:22 Aramis Ramierez of the Cubs gives me my first fantasy points of the season with a single. Hey, it’s a start.
2:25 Mark Teixeira of the Rangers grounds out to the second baseman in shallow right field in the first official “weird infield shift” of the season.
2:32 My fantasy season is officialy ruined as Matt Murton of the Cubs buries me with a three-run bomb into right center. Who the hell is Matt Murton? Why did my opponent draft him? Why didn’t I draft him?
2:38 Bob Walk is the best color commentator nobody’s ever heard when he notices that the wrong umpire made a bad call. Think Tim McCarver without the arrogance.
2:43 Oliver Perez, the Pirates pitcher, delivers one of my favorite baseball cliches by “helping his own cause” with an RBI single. Of course, Walkie wouldn’t be caught dead using it.
3:10 Here come the Reds! Scott Hatteberg makes it 5-4 with the only weapon the Reds have: the three-run homer.
3:21 This is too damn hard, following all these games.
3:31 Big Papi time! Did he drill that out or what? I smell an MVP season for David Ortiz, coupled with the endless DH debate. No, wait, that’s my Tombstone Pizza burning.
4:00 Billy Wagner thrills the Shea faithful by doing what they brought him there to do.
That’s just a small sampling of how fun afternoon baseball can be. Just think, it’s just getting started.