Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan chronicled opening day from his couch. E-mail questions/comments to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
12:20 p.m. ET: Welcome, poor denizens of the desk, to opening day 2008. I'm honored and privileged to give you continuous live updates for the rest of the day on the goings-on around baseball as your wretched bosses try to convince you that spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations take precedent over the national pastime.
No, sir. At the opening day notebook, we encourage insubordination, and if your superiors have anything to say about it, please tell them to e-mail email@example.com, and we would be happy to set them straight. Use that address, too, if you have anything to say on the following half-dozen subjects:
3) An alternative to the trite word "walk-off," since blog guru Jamie Mottram wants to nickname last night's hero Mr. Walkoff, and, presumably, the fifth guy down here would object to that.
4) Carl Balboaz.
5) Lunch options. (Note: This one is almost assuredly decided, as living in Kansas City and ordering anything other than barbecue would be blasphemous.)
6) My copious linking.
Actually, if you've got anything else, baseball-related or otherwise, the inbox is a Tempur-Pedic landing ground for it all. So have at it. I'll be here until at least 7 p.m. ET, 50-inch HD and Extra Innings package in front of me, leather recliner underneath me, 6-month-old at my side practicing his left-handed throws, father-in-law recalling his athletic glory days of yonder like Polk High's finest and, yes, Bride awaiting with her Lock of the Year after calling the Cardinals' World Series victory two years ago and starting the Balboaz-for-MVP campaign last season.
Back in 15 with a look at the pitching matchups.
12:40 p.m. ET: Only 12 opening day starters from last year are pitching today. Kudos to the 'Duk at Big League Stew for enlightening us on the the five types of starters you'll see. Here is a breakdown with a different twist: the matchups themselves (all times ET):
Gil Meche vs. Justin Verlander (1:05 p.m.): Verlander may well win the AL Cy Young. My most eagerly anticipated matchup of the day is him against Kansas City uberslugger Billy Butler.
Roy Halladay vs. Chien-Ming Wang (1:05 p.m.): The last opening day at Yankee Stadium, and the Yankees send out Chien-Ming Wang? Hey, it's better than Carl Pavano, who, sadly, started this day last year.
Brandon Webb vs. Aaron Harang (2:10 p.m.): In this diary two years ago, I made fun of the Reds for starting Harang on opening day. I apologize. He is good. But Webb is better.
Ben Sheets vs. Carlos Zambrano (2:20 p.m.): Last year, Sheets spun an absolute gem on opening day, then proceeded to pull every muscle in his body, break every bone and spent the rest of the season in traction. Fearless prediction No. 1: Z goes deep off him.
Matt Chico vs. Brett Myers (3:05 p.m.): Wouldn't it be the best if Kyle Kendrick returned the prank on Myers by barricading him in his hotel room, cutting off his phone line, forcing him to miss opening day and taking his start?
James Shields vs. Jeremy Guthrie (3:05 p.m.): Sorry, Jeremy, not even Joseph Smith could save the Orioles this season.
Advantage: Tampa Bay
Mark Buehrle vs. C.C. Sabathia (3:05 p.m.): This game could be over before the 2 p.m.-or-so starts reach the ninth inning. Should be interesting to see what a lefty-heavy Cleveland lineup does against Buehrle.
Advantage: Los Angeles
Advantage: New York
Advantage: St. Louis
Jered Weaver vs. Livan Hernandez (7:05 p.m.): Officially the ugliest matchup of the day. Weaver is a No. 3 starter forced into opening day duties by the injuries to John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar, and Hernandez is a No. 4 starter forced into opening day duties by the Twins' crappiness.
Advantage: Los Angeles
Ian Snell vs. Tom Glavine (7:10 p.m.): OK, so I see the Braves are the chic pick to win the World Series. Can someone please explain this to me? Tom Glavine can be great on occasion, but he's no better than a fifth starter. Yes, they've got pitching depth, but hasn't anyone learned what happens when you rely on Mike Hampton?
Roy Oswalt vs. Jake Peavy (10:05 p.m.): Best for last. Anyone who loves baseball and lives on the East Coast: Do yourself a favor and keep the eyes peeled for at least a couple innings.
Advantage: San Diego
1 p.m. ET: Looks like the Yankees-Blue Jays start is delaying, diary pal Pete Abraham reports.
This gives me a chance to get into why the Yankees will miss the playoffs this season for the first time since 1994. Not saying this just to stir up some e-mail, either, though feel free to drop a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm legitimately convinced the Yankees are in trouble this year, and seeing as Tampa Bay is on the come and Boston has the deepest pool of young players next to the Rays, it could stretch beyond that.
1) They're old. Here are some opening day ages: Mike Mussina, 39; Mariano Rivera, 38; Jason Giambi, 37; Jorge Posada, 37; Andy Pettitte, 35; Johnny Damon, 34; Bobby Abreu, 34; Hideki Matsui, 33; Derek Jeter, 33; Alex Rodriguez, 32. And all but Mussina, Giambi, Pettitte and Abreu are under contract for at least two more years.
2) Their pitching isn't very good. Chien-Ming Wang on opening day is iffy. Pettitte or Mussina as the No. 2? Maybe three years ago. Two rookies, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, fill out the rotation, and relying on rookie pitchers is dangerous. The bullpen, outside of the eighth and ninth innings with Joba Chamberlain and Rivera, doesn't inspire much confidence, either. Brian Bruney? Ross Ohlendorf? And who is Jonathan Albaladejo?
(The guy they acquired for Tyler Clippard. Oh.)
3) New management. I think Joe Girardi is a very good manager and was certainly the right choice over Don Mattingly. That said, the Yankees are an entirely different job than the Marlins, and it may take time to adjust to everything. With Brian Cashman's contract situation in the balance and Hank Steinbrenner asserting himself, the Yankees' world is more tenuous than it's been in years, and the instability could be problematic.
That said, I am arguing against a lineup of Damon, Jeter, Abreu, A-Rod, Giambi, Cano, Posada, Matsui and Cabrera, and for that, perhaps I'm the biggest fool of all.
Looks like the only game for the first hour is Tigers-Royals. Time to see that Detroit lineup unleashed.
1:02 p.m. ET: Tarp is out at Wrigley, too. Ugh. I hope it's not one of those days.
1:10 p.m. ET: First pitch of the year is a fastball low, from Justin Verlander to David DeJesus. And first out is a groundout to the Tigers' new first baseman, Carlos Guillen.
1:15 p.m. ET: First error of the year: Miguel Cabrera. First of many. It was a low throw that 99 percent of first basemen would have gotten. Carlos Guillen, however, is a 1 percenter right now.
1:16 p.m. ET: Jose Guillen just popped out. They cut to commercial break as he was crying because he needs his HGH.
Keep coming with the Zimmerman nicknames while I give a call to my guys at Timbers BBQ for some of the the world's best burnt ends.
1:25 p.m. ET: Readers, I love you because you're a lot smarter than me. I think and think and think and the best nickname I can come up with for Ryan Zimmerman is The Finisher, because of his penchant for ending games with home runs. I figure when he comes up in the ninth inning, the Nationals hire the guy from Mortal Kombat to say, "Finish him!"
But that probably wouldn't work, so how about this, from Aaron Ofengender in Indianapolis: "Seeing as how he's in DC, why not just make it Mr. President?"
I like it. Though Sam Ellison notes that Zimmerman is only 23, not 35.
1:28 p.m. ET: The public loves Carl Balboaz. (And, really, who wouldn't?) To wit:
From Nathan: Any chance we can get some sort of composite Balboaz image for T-shirts and computer backgrounds across America?
Who would Balboaz even look like? Everybody send in their likeliest Balboaz lookalike, and I'll call up the people from Conan O'Brien to do one of those mash-ups.
From Nick in San Rafael, Calif.: As an A's fan, I'm having a hard time getting the ol' ash wood up for this season. … I was told Billy Beane was incapable of making mistakes, and that there is a grand design behind the Ethier-for-Bradley trade! Perhaps Beane was merely preparing the ground for a huge blockbuster Chavez for Balboaz trade? Frankly, I'd take that trade about now.
Problem is, Balboaz's team wouldn't.
From Jeremy Netto in Toronto: Balboaz for MVP!
1:30 p.m. ET: Butler vs. Verlander, Round 1: Butler takes it to the warning track in right field because Magglio Ordonez corrals it with his hair.
Blog editor deluxe Mark Pesavento just gave us this nugget: "Maggs' hair inspires me."
1:37 p.m. ET: You ask, I answer:
From Kristen N. in Cleveland: Opening Day has arrived, and once again my husband and I are debating what would happen to our marriage if his beloved Cubs play my beloved Indians in the World Series. How likely is it that we need to start pricing out marriage counselors? Thanks.
Before I answer the question: If these two have a kid, it's bound to be born on Friday the 13th, right?
As far as talent goes, there's absolutely a good chance the Indians and Cubs end up in the World Series this year, particularly when Chicago gets Brian Roberts. But would the baseball gods really let that happen? I think we all know the answer to that.
From Kevin Gengler: Who will be this year's guy that goes nuts on opening day and wins up on pace for like 324 HRs and 972 RBIs?
Best guess: Ryan Howard. He's facing Matt Chico, who gave up 26 home runs in 167 innings last year, at the best ballpark in the big leagues for home runs. I know Chico's a left-hander and Howard hit half as many home runs against lefties as righties, but it's all there.
More, by the way, on Tuffy Rhodes later.
From Grant in Ames, Iowa: I know you have already spoken out about this, but can this be the season where something actually gets done to ease the unbelievably stupid blackout rules?
Worry not, Grant, and the thousands of others who have e-mailed. An update on the blackout situation is coming later this week. Unfortunately, I'm not anticipating the news to be good, though I promise I won't stop fighting the good fight.
By the way, Daniel in Texas says the satellite companies are doing a free preview of the Extra Innings package. I know this doesn't help those at work, but for the lazy and/or underemployed, have at it and let me know whether it's true.
1:40 p.m. ET: From Ted Sanborn in Darien, Conn.: For a Ryan Zimmerman nickname, how about "Z-Ya!" as in the lexicon of some broadcasters who shout "See ya" when a ball clears the fence, as Ryan's did last night.
Not exactly The Great Bambino, but not bad, either. In that vein, what are the greatest baseball nicknames?
1:42 p.m. ET: First run of the season: Carlos Guillen makes up for his flub with a long double to center field, then scores on Edgar Renteria's first hit as a Tiger, a sharp single up the gut. Gil Meche had two strikes on him, too.
1:50 p.m. ET: The Yankees-Blue Jays game is still delayed in New York, and Yahoo's Steve Henson has the scoop:
The last Opening Day at 85-year-old Yankee Stadium is on hold because of a persistent, near-freezing rain in the Bronx, delaying the 1 p.m. Chien-Ming Wang-vs.-Roy Halladay matchup. Seven Taiwanese reporters are crammed into the shoebox-sized press box where Red Smith once tapped his typewriter, sentries on unending Wang duty stationed half a world from home. Clips of Yankees lore on the videoscreen is helping keep frigid fans entertained, and, of course, there's no shortage of footage, what with the 26 World Series titles and all.
As for me, I'm grabbing a cup of coffee, and for more than the heat. I'm running on three hours' sleep, having grabbed a 6 a.m. flight from Washington to La Guardia after covering the opening game at Nationals Park last night. I woke up today before my 18-year-old son went to sleep last night after going to a concert in L.A. Enough jabbering! Play ball! Rumor has it there will be a three-hour respite from the rain in a while, and they are planning to play the game.
(Diarist's note: Henson on three hours' sleep is a horrendous image.)
1:59 p.m. ET: Lord, does Jose Guillen have a gun. Just nailed Magglio Ordonez at home plate, prompting Mr. Pesavento, noted admirer of Ordonez's shag, to explain: "At times, it's a hinderance. Affects aerodynamics and increases drag."
2 p.m. ET: I covered the Kansas City Royals for two seasons. I saw Ruben Mateo hit cleanup, a poor kid named Eduardo Villacis make his big-league debut at Yankee Stadium and Ken Harvey become the worst All-Star ever. Their entire existence was a horror film.
So to see the fans with a modicum of hope is something new and something exciting. The problem is, of course, expectations lead to disappointment, and the Royals are getting their first dose already: Leadoff hitter and center fielder David DeJesus just left the game after apparently aggravating an ankle injury.
If there's any solace, it's that Joey Gathright might actually get some at-bats. Why the Royals don't put Gathright in left field, shift Mark Teahen to first and bag the Ross Gload farce I'm not quite sure. Perhaps Gathright's greatest skills have more to do with jumping than actually playing baseball, but, hey, why not find out?
(Oh, and do yourselves a favor and click here and just marvel at Gathright. I'd show you the video of him jumping over Hiroki Kuroda last week, but MLB is being ornery and not letting anyone else post it.
2:05 p.m. ET: Uh-oh. Baaaaaaad news from New York. Reports Steve Henson: On the message board: Attention fans: After speaking with weather authorities, the forecast is not as promising as we thought. We are evaluating our options. Translation: This game is history.
We'll keep you posted.
2:08 p.m. ET: And this is what happens when you're covering a game with a rain delay. Says Henson: Some old guy in a suite right next to me is eating lobster. A kid, probably his grandson, is looking at him forlornly, clearly wishing the old guy had just bought a damn hot dog. Lobster and steak, bloody rare. Red-skin potatoes, asparagus and, for some odd reason, cranberry jelly. It had to have been a suite buffet. Cuz now the old guy has eaten so much that turkey slices have revealed themselves under the pile.
Watch out, Jason King. You've got competition for Yahoo! Sports' food critic.
2:10 p.m. ET: Finally, another game. D-backs and Reds, set to go right now, only Extra Innings is black. There is no way Kansas City is blacked out from watching the freaking Cincinnati Reds, is there …
2:11 p.m. ET: OK, Henson has gone completely nuts. The old guy just choked on a red-skin potato! Play-by-play of a septuagenarian eating. Here and nowhere else, friends.
2:12 p.m. ET: Phew! Arizona-Cincy is up … and, of course, delayed.
2:14 p.m. ET: From Doug Gallant, Cincinnati's head groundskeeper: Tarp should be pulled in 20 minutes. Which means, at best, first pitch around 3 p.m.
2:15 p.m. ET: I told you Henson, on three hours' sleep, is scary:
Rapid recovery. The old man is OK. He just fed a forkful of pure lobster to the kid, who now is beginning to get it. Someday, kid is a young adult and on a date. They order lobster. Date: "Hey, Sparky, when did you first taste lobster?" Sparky: "With my granddad, Hugabunch, at Yankee Stadium during a rain delay. Eric Clapton's 'Let It Rain' was playing over the PA. It was magical." Hugabunch: "You're a loser. I'm outta here."
2:21 p.m.: Still delayed in Cincinnati, and we're delayed in Chicago, too. More games don't begin for another 45 minutes. Hang in there.
2:22 p.m. ET: Uh-oh. Gil Meche is in trouble. Bases loaded, one out, Polanco, Sheffield, Cabrera in the offing.
2:23 p.m. ET: Line-drive out to right field. And they are not trying Jose Guillen's arm this time.
2:25 p.m. ET: America, meet the luckiest guy in the world, Jason in Philadelphia: Today at my work, for lunch, the higher-ups were nice enough to haul in an actual hot dog cart in the lobby (sauerkraut optional), sodas, soft pretzels and other goodies. Does it get more baseball than a hot dog and a soda (or a beer if you're actually AT the game)? I think not.
2:26 p.m. ET: It's official: Yankees are postponed. Game rescheduled for 7:05 p.m. tomorrow. Feel bad for all the people who took off work to see it.
2:30 p.m. ET: Leave it to a doctorate student to take the lead in the Zimmerman nickname contest. From Jeremy Littau in Columbia, Mo.: I would suggest "The Star Spangled Banger," although that's a nickname he can't take with him.
True enough, though the Nationals would be smart to lock Zimmerman up to a Tulowitzki-sized contract, and I anticipate he's going to be in Washington for a long time.
2:35 p.m. ET: That's five shutout innings for Verlander. Kansas City can't touch him.
2:38 p.m. ET: The MVP campaign begins: Miguel Cabrera, home run. A shot, too, into a stiff wind.
2:44 p.m. ET: From Jeremie Wallis in Seattle: Where can we follow the Steve Henson play by play inste… er… in addition to yours?
2:49 p.m. ET: There's the Alex Gordon everyone expected last season. Verlander left a 3-1 pitch up in the zone, and Gordon hammered a two-run homer halfway up the right-field bleachers, a feat considering the win. Detroit 3, Kansas City 2.
2:51 p.m. ET: Billy Butler is making me look like a fool. First-pitch popup to end the sixth.
3:01 p.m. ET: Finally, baseball! Carlos Zambrano just struck out Rickie Weeks to open the season in Chicago.
3:05 p.m. ET: Catching up on your mail:
Zimmerman nicknames: "Capitol Thrill" from George Kritikos; "Agent Z" (see Gil Arenas) from Derek Conklin in Provo, Utah; "Nationals Treasure" from Scott in Cincinnati
Alternatives for walk-off, all from Theron Steiner: Game-ender, instant W, death knell, the wrap-up, helmet-tosser, trophy ball, that's-all ball, one and done
From David Shue: What's wrong with baseball? Why would they schedule home games in New York, Seattle, Cincinnati, Chicago, Detroit and Baltimore when it's cold and rainy, and make teams like Texas, Arizona and Tampa Bay play on the road? Where is the good weather?
3:06 p.m. ET: Joy to the world. Dusty and Bob Melvin are exchanging lineup cards in Cincinnati.
3:07 p.m. ET: And we're going in Cleveland, too, with reigning Cy Young winner C.C. Sabathia on the mound.
3:08 p.m. ET: Akinori Iwamura leading off against Jeremy Guthrie in Baltimore. This is going to be busy.
3:10 p.m. ET: This is from somebody named Chesky Bevo: You guys are really trying way too hard with this nickname thing for Zimmerman. This "Star Spangled" stuff just seems forced to me, something that no-one would actually use. You gotta keep it simple. I could hear my local radio announcer calling a game and referring to Zimmerman as something like Zimbo or The Zimster.
I'm glad I don't live near Chesky and have to listen to his local announcer.
3:15 p.m. ET: Welcome home, Jim Thome: Two-run homer at the Jake off C.C. Sabathia for a 2-0 White Sox lead. (And, yes, being a Clevelander, I will be one of those people who refers to it as Progressive Field only when editors deem it necessary.)
3:16 p.m. ET: Poor 'Duk. He's got Thome as his DH … and Sabathia as his pitcher. "The old fantasy hornswoggle … good for my hitter, terrible for my pitcher.
3:20 p.m. ET: From Shawn Tienken: As much as I like Littau's suggestion for a nickname (Star-Spangled Banger), I'm pretty sure Randall L. Tobias already has that one locked up. Ba-dum-ching!
3:23 p.m. ET: My father-in-law is back over to look after the baby following their mutual afternoon naps. He is from Jefferson City, Mo., like Joe Crede, and told me that Crede's uncle is a 400-pound cop who is "funnier than (bleep)."Bet you won't see that in the Tribune tomorrow.
3:27 p.m. ET: Cameras pan over to four Chads with the letters F-U-K-U painted across their chests. Fearless Prediction No. 2: They are not sober.
3:28 p.m. ET: People really like this Zimmerman nickname thing. From Jeff Kinkaid in Vermont: The better question is not what Zimmerman’s nickname should be, it’s “What would Ryan Zimmerman’s name have been 60-100 years ago?” That’s when they knew how to nickname baseball players. I’m guessing it might have been something like “the Sour Kraut” or “the Titan of Teutonic Timber.”
3:29 p.m. ET: For what it's worth, Mottram still thinks "Mr. Walkoff" is the best option. Please convince him otherwise.
3:37 p.m. ET: Whoa! Just turned back to the Tigers-Royals game and now they're ahead of the Tigers 4-3. No surprise, really. The Tigers' bullpen is bad, and after Verlander allowed two runners to begin the seventh inning, Jim Leyland yanked him. John Buck singled Mark Teahen in, Mark Grudzielanek singled Ross Gload in and the Royals surged ahead.
3:38 p.m. ET: Or not. Carlos Guillen just homered off Brett Tomko. (Brett Tomko, $3 million – why?) Tied at 4 in the eighth.
3:40 p.m. ET: Just like that, Cleveland is back on top. Three-run homer by Franklin Gutierrez gave the Indians a 4-2 lead. Another bomb from Grady Sizemore made it 5-2. Hawk Harrelson just said, "It's going to be an interesting season." If, by interesting, he means last-place … well, yeah.
3:43 p.m. ET: From Brian Scala in Franklin Square, N.Y.: Regarding your assessment that Ken Harvey was the worst All-Star ever, I humbly disagree. Mark Redman was the worst All-Star ever.
Yeah. You might have me there.
3:45 p.m. ET: Mark Buehrle is one batter away from getting yanked. Travis Hafner just doubled in a run, it's 6-2 and Victor Martinez is hitting for the second time this inning.
3:48 p.m. ET: Bye-bye, Mr. Buehrle. Martinez singled, Hafner scored, Ozzie came out, Nick Masset's coming in and the Indians lead 7-2.
3:49 p.m. ET: From Zach Woosley: Sober the F-U-K-U guys likely are not, however, never underestimate the possibility that they are telling Cubs ownership what they think about the possible selling of the naming right of Wrigley Field.Sam Zell has a special quality. Usually it's newspaperpeople annoying fans or fans annoying newspaperpeople. Zell does both.
3:51 p.m. ET: Huge home run from Eric Byrnes off Aaron Harang, the second of the inning after Chris Young. I think the Diamondbacks have the most interesting lineup in the NL. Justin Upton, hitting eighth today, could be hitting third by season's end, and Mark Reynolds could be in the cleanup spot.
3:52 p.m. ET: Brewers-Cubs delayed again. Lovely.
3:55 p.m. ET: From Brad Martin in Dayton, Ohio: Passan, you stink at fantasy baseball. Sadly, Brad is right.
4:01 p.m. ET: Going to extras in Detroit. Miguel Cabrera stranded on deck.
4:04 p.m. ET: From colleague Tim Brown in L.A.: Biggest ovation of the day so far has been for Joe Torre.
4:05 p.m. ET: Another Thome home run. And Jermaine Dye nearly hit one, if not for the big left-field wall at the Jake. Indians lead down to 7-4.
4:06 p.m. ET: Short break here, guys. While I had the father-in-law to pick up my barbecue, editor Mark needs lunch, and I'm enough of a Luddite where I might crash the entire Internet if I try posting while he's gone.
4:30 p.m. ET: So much for that: Tony Pena Jr. with a bloop hit off Denny Bautista to score John Buck from second. Brandon Inge tried to barehand the ball, lost it and allowed Buck to rumble home to put K.C. up 4-3. Joakim Soria vs. Clete Thomas, Inge and Edgar Renteria in the 11th.
4:32 p.m. ET: Cubs and Brewers are back – and Sheets, much like last year, looks fantastic.
4:33 p.m. ET: Do Fox Sports stations not have radar guns? I'd love to see how hard Sheets is throwing. Just blew a fastball by Alfonso Soriano before bouncing a curveball to strike him out, his third of the inning and fifth overall.
4:35 p.m. ET: 'Duk on Sheets: "Give him another inning. This is perfect injury weather."
4:36 p.m. ET: Here we go. Pretty much every afternoon game is on. Mark Hendrickson just worked out of a jam in the first inning against the Mets. Jeff Francis is facing Rick Ankiel with the bases loaded. And we're about to watch Barry Zito get marauded by the Dodgers.
4:37 p.m. ET: Double for Ankiel two score two runs, single by Yadier Molina to right scores two more. Cardinals up 4-1 in the first.
4:40 p.m. ET: Not sure who Clete Thomas is, but he's at third base with one out and Tigers leadoff hitter Edgar Renteria at the plate. Still 5-4 Royals.
4:43 p.m. ET: Renteria goes down on a slider.
4:45 p.m. ET: Play of the Day so far: Shot to third base off the bat of Placido Polanco, Alex Gordon dives to grab it and throws Polanco out at first base. Gordon hit the home run to bring the Royals back into it and now saves the game.
4:50 p.m. ET: Two retorts to my Yankees-will-miss-the-postseason treatise.
First, from Brook Buxton:
Aside from the the new management thing, you could substitute the Sox into your Yanks argument:
1) They're old. Here are some (2008) ages: Mike Timlin, 42; Tim Wakefield, 41; Manny Ramirez, 36; Jason Varitek, 36; Mike Lowell, 34; Bryan Corey, 34; Sean Casey, 33; Julio Lugo, 32; David Ortiz, 32; Hideki Okajima, 32; J.D. Drew, 32.
2) Their (starting) pitching isn't very good. Daisuke Matsuzaka on opening day is iffy. Jon Lester as the No. 2? Maybe two years from now. Two rookies, Lester and Clay Buchholz, fill out the rotation, and relying on rookie pitchers is dangerous. Tim Wakefield doesn't inspire much confidence, either. Curt Schilling? Josh Beckett? When will they be healthy?
So the Sox aren't as old and the Yanks and the Boston bullpen is pretty much lights out. But will guys like Wakefield, Ramirez, Varitek and Lowell hold up? And how will the young/battered rotation fare? Will they keep it close enough for the offense (if healthy) to score late and have the 'pen seal the deal?
And from Bryan Valvana:
Annihiliated by injuries last year (which is why the Yankees started Pavano a year ago), the Yankees won 21 of 50 games and went on to win 94. All they did since then is get healthier and the rookies got more experience. Let's go through your three reasons why they will miss the playoffs. Point by point, I'll compare them to Boston.
1) You say they're old. Really? Since when is 34 old? Tell that to Lowell, Varitek, Tavarez, Wakefield and Manny. Matsui and Abreu are old players? OK. Hey, know who else was old? The 2001 Diamondbacks. You say, "Jeter is 33, A-Rod is 32." Darn, wish we could trade them for Lugo and Lowell!
2) You say they're pitching isn't very good. Well, it's twice as good as it was last year when they made the playoffs. Wang – 38 wins over his last 2 seasons. Does anyone think Lester and Buchholz are as promising as Hughes and Kennedy? Matsuzaka has not lived up to expectations. Sure, he's more likely to have a better season than Pettitte or Moose, but by how much? And who's so overpowering in the Sox bullpen? Manny Delcarmen? Julian Tavarez? I don't get how the Sox have significantly better pitching than the Yanks. It's simply not true.
3) New manager could be a problem. This is just stupid. Give this logic to Lou Pinella, Ozzie Guillen, Terry Francona and countless others who have done great in their first seasons. And none had the intimate knowledge of the inner workings and personnel as Girardi does.
4:51 p.m. ET: Did you know Mark Hendrickson had Lasik this offseason, even though he has never worn glasses or contacts? That's like having gastric-bypass when you're 5-10, 150.
4:51 p.m. ET: Just flipped to the Reds-Diamondbacks and thought I'd pass along a post at Big League Stew on Aaron Harang wearing Joe Nuxhall's jersey. Very classy move. And the Reds are making noise against Brandon Webb, now down 3-2.
4:52 p.m. ET: Barry Zito's fastball is screaming at 84 mph. You wonder how Jeff Kent had enough juice in his bat to hit a two-run homer. Dodgers up 3-0 already
4:55 p.m. ET: How about those swingin' Nats? Despite a Chase Utley homer, they're up 6-3 after Lastings Milledge hit a two-run shot in the top of the sixth. Ryan Madson was the victim, and it's just the start of the Phillies' bullpen woes that remind me a lot of the Tigers'.
4:56 p.m. ET: Ah, yes. My first Albert Pujols at-bat of the year. I'm on the record as saying I don't think he should be playing. Take the year off, let the Cardinals lose 100 games and come back next year when they've turned over some of their dead wood. Still, he is so precise, so focused, so near-perfect … and he just hit a home run. Nice timing by me.
5:01 p.m. ET: For those wondering, Victor Martinez pulled up lame advancing on a passed ball in the second inning and left the game, replaced by Kelly Shoppach. Good news: He walked off on his own power, and Martinez limped off in the same manner opening day last year without going on the DL. The bad news: Martinez isn't exactly the most in-shape guy, and leg injuries with catchers add up.
5:04 p.m. ET: Blake DeWitt just singled off Zito in his first major-league at-bat, and even better, he had Vin Scully calling it.
5:08 p.m. ET: First look at Johan Santana, and he looks like … Johan Santana. Just induced Matt Treanor into a flyout, and with Hendrickson coming out, he should be nine up, nine down.
5:09 p.m. ET: Barbecue sauce on my shirt. Ouch.
Mike Oz, by the way, is an A's fan, and he's absolutely relishing the professional destruction of a one-time Cy Young winner.
5:10 p.m. ET: From my guy Mike Oz in Fresno: So how long before Zito is starting for the Fresno Grizzlies.
5:11 p.m. ET: From Rob Blackburn in Tacoma, Wash: In response to David Shue wondering why we play opening day games in Seattle? Um, cause we have a roof?
5:16 p.m. ET: Wow. I am actually quite impressed with my father-in-law, who has left to go home and sleep. The trivia question on the Orioles' telecast was: Who was the last Orioles outfielder to win a Gold Glove? He said, "Paul Blair." I figured there was absolutely no way it had been more than 30 years since an Orioles outfielder won one, but I'll be damned, he was right. So, kudos, old man.
5:19 p.m. ET: Big at-bat for Cleveland. Seventh inning, Rafael Perez pitching, Jim Thome up with two on and none out. Thome has two home runs already.
5:20 p.m. ET: Thome absolutely crushed a ball into left-center field. And Jason Michaels got a great jump to catch it a foot from the wall.
5:21 p.m. ET: Best game of the day so far: Cubs vs. Brewers. Still scoreless in the seventh inning. Very weird, though: Carlos Zambrano just picked off Bill Hall at second base – and is now leaving the game with an apparent right finger injury. Finger injuries are bad news for pitchers. Just ask Joel Zumaya.
5:22 p.m. ET: For what it's worth, the Chicago announcers are saying Zambrano cramped up. But trainers definitely were looking at Z's finger.
5:26 p.m. ET: Congratulations to Cleveland for blowing the lead of the day. Paul Konerko's two-run double just tied it at 7 and Sox have runners at first and third with one out. And the Phillies just tied the Nationals at 6 on reigning MVP Jimmy Rollins' home run in the bottom of the seventh.
5:30 p.m. ET: Another delay, this time in St. Louis, where the Cardinals lead 5-1 in the third inning.
5:32 p.m. ET: Great at-bat between Rafael Betancourt and Cuban rookie Alexei Ramirez, who keeps fouling balls off with runners on first at third.
5:33 p.m. ET: Tough to hit a 94 mph fastball on the corner. Adios, Alexei.
5:35 p.m. ET: Looks like Lasik can't keep you from being a garbage pitcher. Mark Hendrickson just gave yielded a bases-clearing double to David Wright. Mets 6, Marlins 0, and book Johan Santana's first victory as a Met.
5:38 p.m. ET: Terrible baserunning by the Cubs: With runners on first and second, Kosuke Fukudome got caught in a rundown. Now there's just a runner on second and two outs.
5:48 p.m. ET: Joe Crede just doubled off the wall with no outs. Presumably, his four-bill uncle is thrilled.
5:49 p.m. ET: Juan Uribe just doubled, too, moving Crede to third. Swisher was intentionally walked. Bases loaded and no outs. With Big, Bad Bobby Jenks waiting, this isn't good for Cleveland.
5:52 p.m. ET: Oh, boy. Ozzie is mad, and rightfully so. Terrible throw home by Jhonny Peralta on a bases-loaded grounder, phantom tag by Kelly Shoppach on Crede and home-plate umpire Gerry Davis called him out.
5:54 p.m. ET: Ozzie's about to get tossed.
5:55 p.m. ET: At least he should have. Orlando Cabrera made a great hard slide into second base to break up a double play that would have scored the go-ahead run for Chicago, and Bruce Dreckman called interference. What an embarrasing inning for umpires.
5:56 p.m. ET: I'm mad. For the White Sox. What a travesty. I hope an umpire supervisor reams out this crew for this game.
5:58 p.m. ET: Still scoreless in Chicago after Guillermo Mota strikes out two to end the eighth.
5:59 p.m. ET: And anything but scoreless in Philadelphia, where the Nationals nearly batted around on Tom Gordon and took an 11-6 lead in the ninth inning. Congratulations to Flash, who, barring a miracle, will end opening day with the worst ERA in baseball: 135.00.
6 p.m. ET: OK, so this was fairly cool. There's a commercial for the sausage race at Miller Park, and your humble diarist has gone to the extreme of transcribing it for you.
It's the Klement sausage races
So why do they race? They race for taste!
There's Frankie! And Guido! And Stoch! And Bretwurst! And Cinco!
Just look at 'em go, because they know
When you run out of Klement's, you run out of taste!
By the way, Guido the Italian sausage and Cinco the chorizo? What's next, Mordecai the kosher hot dog?
6:01 p.m. ET: Uh-oh. Kerry Wood is in, and on his first pitch he drilled Rickie Weeks in the back.
6:02 p.m. ET: Good work by Tony Gwynn Jr., too, getting a two-strike bunt down on a Wood fastball.
6:05 p.m. ET: More finals: Washington beats Philadelphia 11-6, Brandon Lyon gets his first save as Diamondbacks closer in their 4-2 win against Cincinnati and the Orioles begin their road to 100 losses and the Rays theirs to .500 with Tampa Bay's 6-2 victory.
6:06 p.m. ET: This is the Kerry Wood we remember: Giving up big hits! Ryan Braun single to center field, Rickie Weeks scores and the Brewers take a 1-0 lead.
6:10 p.m. ET: Huge triple to the right-field corner by Corey Hart. Prince scores, Braun scores, Brewers up 3-0 and Cubs fans cry.
6:11 p.m. ET: "Boooooooooooooooooooo!" says Wrigley.
6:16 p.m. ET: What a shame for the White Sox. Casey Blake hit a bases-loaded double off Octavio Dotel. Cleveland's up 10-7. The only solace for Chicago: At least Joe Borowski is pitching the ninth for the Indians.
6:20 p.m. ET: There's one back: home run, Jermaine Dye, 10-8.
6:21 p.m. ET: Eric Gagne had better get his act together. Derrek Lee singled, Aramis Ramirez walked and now he's down three balls on Kosuke Fukudome, Gagne's fifth, sixth and seventh straight.
6:21 p.m. ET: Tie ballgame.
6:21 p.m. ET: Kosuke Fukudome is a god.
6:23 p.m. ET: The scene: getting louder at Wrigley, the pangs of hope still living in spite of Kerry Wood. Gagne is wild, Fukudome patient. It's a 3-1 pitch and Fukudome drills it to center field. Tony Gwynn Jr. runs back like he's got a prayer. Derrek Lee jumps in the air rounding third. Ramirez does the same. Fukudome goes into the dugout. No chance he stays there. Heads out, tips his cap, and the Cubs have three more outs to manufacture one more run against Gagne.
6:25 p.m. ET: Game over in Cleveland. JoeBo strands one runner after giving up a run, and the Indians steal one from the White Sox.
6:27 p.m. ET: Huge mistake by Gagne. He was late getting over to the first-base bag on a ground ball to Prince Fielder, and Felix Pie beat Fielder to the base. Granted, Fielder should have Two outs and only a runner on first, but it would be a lot better to have three outs and extra innings.
6:29 p.m. ET: Seems as though we've lost the Zimmerman nickname battle. Sadly, Mottram will continue calling him Mr. Walkoff. I hope Harry Walkoff sues him for name infringement.
6:31 p.m. ET: Two votes from Donald Pegnim and Rick Kaiser for the Zimmermonster. Fun, but Mottram would look like a fool saying it, and the man must stay fresh and clean.
6:33 p.m. ET: Extras at Wrigley, the game of the day by a long shot.
6:34 p.m. ET: Hey, Mottram. Henson thinks Zimmerman's nickname should be Mr. Relevant. Oooooooh. You got served!
6:37 p.m. ET: Brad Penny's out after 6 2/3 scoreless innings, and Johan Santana is probably the same after an archetypal Santana outing: 7 3 2 2 2 8. (Though it must be said: Santana's sitting at 90 mph or so with his fastball, about 4 mph under where he's usually at.)
6:42 p.m. ET: Trouble brewing in Chicago. Again. Bob Howry gave up a leadoff double to Craig Counsell, who moved over to third on a Jason Kendall sacrifice. Tony Gwynn Jr. drove him in with a sacrifice fly, and the Brewers are now ahead 4-3.
6:45 p.m. ET: 6:45 p.m. ET: From David Israel: Being a Padres fan trapped in St. Louis, I have a bet with my friend as to which offense will score more runs. Do I have a chance in hell?
Absolutely. What, you're worried about a team whose starting left fielder hasn't had a major league at-bat in two years?
6:46 p.m. ET: Well, that was quick. Three pitches, two curveballs, one Erik Bedard strikeout against Ian Kinsler.
6:47 p.m. ET: And that was quick, too: Michael Young, home run to right field, and Bedard is already planning on how he's going to be a complete jerk to reporters arfter the game.
6:50 p.m. ET: Base hit for Josh Hamilton. Probably should have been an error on Jose Lopez, though.
6:58 p.m. ET: Cubs lose, as David Riske goes 1-2-3 in the ninth and puts the Brewers up one game in the NL Central.
7:05 p.m. ET: Nearly 7,000 words later, it's time to put this bad boy to bed. Many thanks go out to you, dear readers, especially the hundreds who e-mailed, and to Mark Pesavento for keeping up with my incessant e-mailing and IMing.
In spite of the weather, this was a good opening day. Kosuke Fukudome introduced himself to the country, Carl Balboaz made a one-day comeback and Hubabunch the Hussy debuted. We had play-by-play of an old guy eating lobster thanks to Steve Henson operating on three hours' sleep, a bunch of good nicknames for Ryan Zimmerman that probably won't stick and a post on Tuffy Rhodes that never happened. We learned that Lasik surgery doesn't help pitchers, Yankees fans are awfully defensive this year and umpire Gerry Davis really needs to get his crew – including himself – in line, because they might've pulled the single worst inning of umpiring I've ever seen.
The best part: We've got 161 more of these days left.
7:15 p.m. ET: P.S. – The Bride just checked in, and here is the verdict: "Who do I think will be MVP? Franklin Toro. And who's gonna win is – who did I say last year was going to win? The Royals? This year, I'm going to go with San Diego."
There you have it. Franklin Toro for MVP and the Padres as champs.
- Mark Hendrickson
- Justin Verlander
- Ryan Zimmerman