Opening Weekend Thoughts


After a weekend of nothing but eating, sleeping, and watching baseball, I realize now just how much I appreciate the game and all that it has to offer. The season is just four days old, but I’ve already managed to attend a Phillies game, devour some delicious ballpark food, and watch about 20 episodes of the greatest show on television: Baseball Tonight. At the same time, however, I finally experienced one of the most disappointing feelings for any true baseball fan. That’s right; I dropped a home run during batting practice.

You might not consider it a very big deal, but for me, the thrill of catching a baseball at a game is special, even if it is only a BP ball. The fact that I don’t get the chance to go to many games combined with my horrible luck makes the chances of actually snatching a souvenir slim at best. Most likely due to my dedication to manhood, the idea of bringing a glove to a game is completely out of the question to me. This past Saturday was no different, and I wasn’t about to swallow my pride and bring the leather.

I arrived at Citizens Bank Park extra early to see all of batting practice, although I still had doubts about catching a ball. After standing in the left field seats for about 45 minutes, I finally got my chance. A player on the Astros hit a scorching line drive headed right at me, and of course, I put my bare hands out hoping to make what would have been an impressive catch. So much for that. The ball bounced right off my hands and into the lap of some lucky fan who had no intentions of even trying to make the catch. I was left with nothing but a bruised thumb and a belief that even Manny Ramirez would have made the catch. I blew perhaps the only chance I’ll ever get, and I got a taste of one of the many cruel aspects of baseball. I’d like to say that I learned my lesson, but something tells me that I will once again leave the glove at home next time.

Even during such a sports-heavy time of year, baseball has wasted no time taking center stage and shining in the spotlight. With the Final Four reaching an end, the Masters approaching, and the NHL/NBA playoff pictures beginning to take shape, our national pastime has had no problem grabbing the attention of sports fans. The games have almost had a postseason-like feel to them, and it’s so nice to see the best players in the world back in action. For those of us in the blogging world, we finally get to write about real baseball news after more than four months of relentless speculation and hopeful predictions. It’s a beautiful thing. Ok, I’m done basking in my personal joy of a new year of baseball. Let’s take a look back at some the highlights of opening weekend.

How about the Cincinnati Reds? They picked up right where they left off in 2010 with a come-from-behind 7-6 victory over the Brewers on Thursday. After three games, the Reds have scored 23 runs and sit atop the NL Central with a perfect 3-0 record. Is this the best lineup in the National League?

Still think the Cardinals will win the division without Adam Wainwright? Thanks to a blown save and a blowout, St. Louis lost its first two at Busch to the Padres. I mean no disrespect to San Diego, but without Adrian Gonzalez, their offense isn’t very dangerous. Jaime Garcia was able to put together an encouraging shutout and the Cards avoided the sweep, but it’s clear that they have many questions to answer moving forward. For example, where is Albert Pujols? He has homered, but he has also grounded into four double plays and is batting just .154 with no walks. Matt Holliday is also out indefinitely after an emergency appendectomy, so I don’t think this is the start Cards fans were hoping for.

What’s going on with the Red Sox? Maybe it’s time to lower those insane expectations for Boston. They have perhaps the most talented team on paper in MLB, but they are off to a 0-3 start for the first time since 1996. The Sox have already allowed 26 runs while their potent offense has scored just 11. Carl Crawford isn’t exactly proving that he is deserving of his huge contract, and the Rangers have simply dominated the preseason World Series favorite. It is clearly way too early to panic, but the Red Sox do find themselves in the AL East basement. With that said, it is certainly good to see that Big Papi David Ortiz isn’t starting in a slump (He has 2 HR & 4 RBIs).

Who said the Phillies can’t win without Chase Utley? Philadelphia’s aces are getting the job done as expected and the Phils lead the NL East after sweeping the Houston Astros. This was the first time that Philadelphia opened the season with a 3+ game home sweep since 1899. Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard have keyed the offense so far, and everyone in Philly is feeling pretty good right now.

What is it with Buck Showalter? He actually has the Orioles looking like legitimate contenders, and Baltimore is 3-0 for the first time since 1997. The O’s have given up only three runs in as many games, and Chris Tillman has a no-hitter after six innings on Saturday. Brian Roberts is off to a solid start, and Nick Markakis’ catch to save the game yesterday has Orioles fans believing that anything is possible this year.

It’s not very often that you see a triple play on opening weekend, but that’s exactly what the Indians were able to pull off. It’s just a shame that there weren’t too many people there to see it. Young star Carlos Santana, who started the triple play with a diving catch, is off to a blazing start with the bat, which gives Cleveland something to be happy about for a change.

Are the Giants experiencing a World Series hangover? The champs lost three out of four to the rival Dodgers in Los Angeles, and they don’t seem to be doing the little things that got them so far last year. All of the losses were close games, but it is clear that Aubrey Huff is vulnerable in the outfield for San Fran.

The Tigers and Yankees don’t seem to be having any problems in the offensive department. In all, 42 runs and 14 home runs were scored in the three-game series. Fans at Yankee Stadium were treated to three slugfests, and these two teams did their best to erase memories of the year of the pitcher. Mark Teixeira is known for his annual April slump, but this season, he has homered in each of New York’s three games. Likewise, Miguel Cabrera is posting great numbers for Detroit with two homers, five RBIs, and a .455 batting average.