Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan chronicled opening day from his couch. E-mail questions/comments to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Noon EDT: Welcome to Year 2 of the opening day notebook. For those who missed it last season, the premise is rather simple: Since Corporate America, evil witch she is, tethers you to a cubicle on the greatest day of the year, I'll pick up the slack by following all of the games on MLB.TV and keeping you abreast of what the box scores don't say.
While I cannot imagine pontificating for two days on the virtues of a 90-foot-tall statue of a man named Oral, this isn't just about baseball, either. Encouraged topics of discussion include The Sopranos and Entourage (returning this Sunday), great mustaches (in honor of former Indians pitcher Rich Yett), superior pork products (I say bacon, Mark the Editor prefers ham) and what I should order for lunch (with pizza, last year's choice, in the early lead, seeing as Chicago's South Loop offers little in the way of delivery options).
Joining us this year is The Bride, who, last year as The Girlfriend, pulled off a virtuoso performance by prognosticating that the St. Louis Cardinals would win the World Series. She also picked Derek Jeter to win the Cy Young, but whatever. Before she heads to work around 2 p.m., she'll deliver this season's Lock of the Year.
In the meantime, I'm relying on you to help carry the conversation. I'll read every e-mail that comes into the inbox at email@example.com, and the best – the funny, ridiculous or intelligent, or a combination of all three – will find their way into the notebook, so long as you include your name, city and state.
And though I generally ask for a last name, it's not necessary today. Don't want to get anyone in trouble with their boss for keeping up with what's really important.
Back in 15 with a look at the opening day starters.
12:15 p.m. EDT: Ranking the starting pitching matchups:
1) Erik Bedard-Johan Santana (7:05, all times EDT): By the end of the year, I think these are the two best left-handers in the American League.
2) Roy Halladay-Jeremy Bonderman (1:05): Can Halladay stay effective as his strikeout numbers dive? Bonderman is a sleeper Cy Young candidate.
3) John Smoltz-Brett Myers (1:05): Power vs. power. Smoltz, who turns 40 in May, still has one of the game's three best sliders.
4) Dan Haren-Felix Hernandez (6:35): King Felix slimmed down and looked phenomenal in spring training. Haren has quietly won 14 each of the last two years.
5) Derek Lowe-Ben Sheets (2:05): If Sheets stays healthy the whole year – a dubious proposition, yes – Milwaukee just might win the NL Central.
6) Carlos Zambrano-Aaron Harang (2:10): There could be 30 strikeouts in this game.
7) C.C. Sabathia-Jose Contreras (2:05): Wonder how much the rocket Sabathia took off his pitching wrist last week will affect him.
8) Brandon Webb-Aaron Cook (4:05): The infield grass in Colorado is going to be brown after this matchup of sinkerballers.
9) Kevin Millwood-John Lackey (10:05): Can't imagine Lackey will be showing Sammy Sosa too many fastballs. Because I can't imagine, either, that Sosa will hit his hammer curve.
10) Curt Schilling-Gil Meche (4:10): Kansas City's $55 million man draws one of baseball's toughest lineups for his debut.
11) Zach Duke-Roy Oswalt (7:05): Lots of people on the Oswalt-for-Cy Young bandwagon. One of these years, they'll be right.
13) Dontrelle Willis-John Patterson (1:05): One of the great things about opening day is any other day, this would be a great duel.
12:30 p.m. EDT: First e-mail comes from Joe F. in Florida:
I moved from my hometown Philadelphia to Florida in November and, as a result, I will be away from my Phillies. But not really. I bought a device that I have hooked up in my parents' house, which lets me watch Philadelphia TV from anywhere over the Internet. I got this even before the whole DirecTV fiasco, so now I'm really glad I did. So, when the first pitch comes today, I'll have the game up on my second monitor, and I'll just hope the boss doesn't come by.
Ah, the Slingbox. It is a beautiful piece of technology indeed, one that would seem to help fans get around baseball's ridiculous blackout rules.
(As an aside, no, I have not forgotten about the blackouts, which, to me, are far worse than the DirecTV-Extra Innings deal. I've been chumming the waters to get some updates and should have a new story within the next couple weeks.)
As for the Extra Innings package, I was talking with a colleague yesterday about the ramifications and came to a simple realization: This deal benefits absolutely zero fans. The ones who had DirecTV get the same thing they've had in the past. The ones who had it on cable must now switch to a different service – one that plenty will contend is inferior – just to get the product.
It's only 200,000 fans, MLB officials will coo, but it's 200,000 loyalists willing to fork over $150 a year. Baseball is essentially spitting on them, telling them that its product is worth hassle. Even if it is, why reveal so by chasing a dollar?
12:55 p.m. EDT: Just got off the phone with WDFN in Detroit. They were talking about wind currents at Comerica Park. That's what it's come to: 119 losses and no one caring to the direction of the wind.
Some quick hits:
From Jeremy in Los Angeles: I was just discussing with a client in Denver that I don't think I, a privileged Angeleno, would not feel the same enthusiasm for opening day if I was trapped in a city that didn't have a chance to win the World Series. Besides Colorado, Pittsburgh and Kansas City, who has zero chance of winning this year?
Washington, Florida and Seattle are the three teams that come to mind, though I wouldn't hesitate to add Baltimore and Cincinnati to the discussion.
From Brian Beltrani at Marist College: Bacon is the superior pork product hands down.
I love a voice of reason.
Ten minutes 'til first pitch. I'll be back then.
1:17 p.m. EDT: Alex Rodriguez just missed a pop-up in foul territory. Oh, boy.
Having problems with MLB.TV right now. Thanks, baseball. Once things get working, we'll get into a groove.
1:22 p.m. EDT: John Kruk just informed me the plural for third baseman is "third basemans." I had no idea.
1:30 p.m. EDT: We're back live, with MLB.TV working, and Toronto already has a 3-0 lead on the defending AL champs. Roy Halladay just sawed off Magglio Ordoñez with a sinker, the first of about 100 bats he'll shear this year.
Before I get to other e-mails, I must run this one, or its author may very well fire me.
I never argued that ham was superior to bacon. That truth is simply self-evident.
Santa Monica, Calif.
I love it when a man ties his own noose.
1:31 p.m. EDT: Thanks to my pal Mike Oz for proof that David Wells was once a Pirate.
1:35 p.m. EDT: The Yankees are up 2-0 after Jason Giambi laced a single up the middle, and Scott Kazmir is over 30 pitches in the first inning after walking Hideki Matsui.
Unfortunately, Lynne S. in Jersey City can't watch:
I'm in class and then I have a job interview at 2:30, meaning I probably won't be home at all to watch Pavano embarrass us. My friend pointed out that me choosing employment over baseball is what makes us different from Boston fans … well that, and 20 championships.
And so it begins.
1:39 p.m. EDT: Kruk, after telling us that Donald Trump still has his hair after Wrestlemania on Sunday night: "I love wrestling, bro."
I love the mute button, bro.
1:42 p.m. EDT: Derek Jeter just threw a ball away. Maybe he and Alex Rodriguez can have an error sleepover tonight.
1:46 p.m. EDT: Man, is that Hanley Ramirez-Josh Beckett trade looking worse and worse for the Red Sox. First Ramirez goes out and wins Rookie of the Year, and now he's 2 for 2 with two runs and two stolen bases, helping the Marlins to a 3-0 lead.
1:48 p.m. EDT: Larry in Seattle settles it once and for all:
Bacon in a runaway. Bacon is so far superior that Canada calls its ham Canadian Bacon to fool people into buying it.
1:55 p.m. EDT: Brian McCann, contract extension in hand, just crushed a two-run home run off Brett Myers. Add that to a double he hit earlier in the day, and he's continuing his All-Star form. Braves up 2-0, and John Smoltz is cruising.
2:01 p.m. EDT: Detroit second baseman Placido Polanco is such a pleasure to watch. He just took a wicked slider from Roy Halladay and poked it into right field for a single. If not for Alex Rios' rocket arm in right field, Brandon Inge would have scored. He did on the next at-bat, a Gary Sheffield rocket sacrifice fly to left field.
Polanco is the toughest hitter in baseball to strike out and one of the game's best bad-ball hitters. He doesn't walk much, though when you make the kind of contact he does, that quality isn't nearly as important.
2:06 p.m. EDT: 2:06 p.m. EDT: Rocco Baldelli, limping out of the batter's box. Surprise, surprise. Looks like he tweaked a hamstring.
2:10 p.m. EDT: Nice start, Jose Contreras. Grady Sizemore crushed a home run to lead off the game, Trot Nixon followed with a single and Travis Hafner moved him to third with another single.
2:15 p.m. EDT: Single by Victor Martinez. Indians 2-0. Contreras still doesn't have an out.
2:16 p.m. EDT: Clearing out the inbox:
From Brad Whitman in Evanston, Ill: While I am sure you are inundated with e-mail and pun-laden blogging responsibilities, I must beseech you to make a call to the all-powerful Yahoo! webmasters and get them to change the Yahoo! Sports homepage photo. Only a slim minority of twisted New York fans (cough … Lynne S. in Jersey City) could enjoy going to check MLB scores while a giant possum with an exposed waistline glares back at them in Yankee pinstripes. Marsupials across the nation must be excited to know that they have a chance with Alyssa Milano.
Please, do it for the children.
And people say I was harsh on Pavano and the Yankees.
Dellner in San Francisco: By "having problems with MLB.TV" do you mean that you have to watch a grainy video image that pauses to buffer every 30 seconds? Because that's not really a problem, it's a much better option than, say, watching the games in HD on Extra Innings cable.
Amen. I'm watching the Indians and White Sox on HD right now, with the Yankees and Devil Rays up a channel. And I'm thinking that my enjoyment of MLB.TV might have been exaggerated just as little.
Todd in Austin, Texas: The over/under on Soriano misplaying his first fly ball of the year is set at 2:55 EDT. Please let me know if the under covers.
Al in Berkeley, Calif: Such blasphemy to tout bacon or ham as the superior pork product on this most hallowed of days. It's obvious the superior pork product is the frankfurter.
"Pork products" tend not to include filler made of used shoe leather.
2:22 p.m. EDT: From Dan J. in Cincinnati: Good thing for the Braves there's no Internet in the bullpen. Nothing like a talk about deli meats to throw Bob Wickman off his game.
2:23 p.m. EDT: Josh Barfield just hammered a Contreras pitch to right-center field. Now it's 5-0 Cleveland. Nick Masset is up in the bullpen. I'd love to have a microphone on Ozzie Guillen right now.
2:26 p.m. EDT: Three more runs for the Marlins, who chased John Patterson before he could get through the third inning. Rookie Alejandro de Aza, who started last season in rookie ball, scored on Hanley Ramirez's third hit of the day, and Miguel Cabrera knocked him in with a long home run to left field. Looks like it's going to be one loss for the Nationals. Only 120 to go for infamy.
2:30 p.m. EDT: Adam Dunn may very well hit 50 home runs this year, and he's on his way after taking Carlos Zambrano deep in the first inning. The PECOTA projection system at Baseball Prospectus is banking on a huge breakout for Dunn.
2:33 p.m. EDT: C.C. Sabathia is bound to make this a game. Darin Erstad just took him yard in his first at-bat for the White Sox. Cleveland's lead is now 5-2.
2:35 p.m. EDT: Home runs galore! Elijah Dukes just absolutely muscled one out to center field off Pavano. What a quick bat he's got.
I hope Dukes can keep his temper under control and grow up, because he might have as much raw talent as Delmon Young and B.J. Upton, his highly touted teammates.
Tampa Bay has the best collection of young talent in baseball, even better than Arizona's group of Stephen Drew, Carlos Quentin, Chris Young, etc. All they need now is an arm aside from Scott Kazmir's that can win some games.
2:38 p.m. EDT: John Smoltz just struck out Ryan Howard after giving up two singles to him earlier. I know Howard slumped during spring training. Oh, well. He's still going to hit more than 50 home runs.
2:39 p.m. EDT: The Yankees can add an E-3 to their E-5 and E-6. Carl Crawford had just driven in B.J. Upton to tie the game at 3 and was caught between first and second until Josh Phelps, part of the Yankees' new first-base platoon with Doug Mientkiewicz, threw the ball into center field.
Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.
2:46 p.m. EDT: So about that Kelly Johnson-at-second base experiment. John Smoltz induced an easy pop-up to center field. Johnson, who played outfield until this season, tracked it, stood under it and flat-out dropped it. For some reason the Philadelphia scorer called it a hit, but it was as blatant an error as you'll see – and lost the lead for Smoltz, with the Phillies now ahead 3-2.
2:47 p.m. EDT: Speaking of errors, Juan Uribe just threw a ball away and allowed two more Cleveland runs to score. The final line for Jose Contreras, who was yanked thereafter: one inning plus, seven runs, six earned. Eek.
2:55 p.m. EDT: Thanks to colleague Tim Brown for this great nugget: Darin Erstad had gone 120 at-bats – and 19 months – since his last home run.
Also, Tim was quick to chime in that the Brewers had the bases loaded against Derek Lowe and Bill Hall hammered a ball to center field, only to see it die on the warning track and fall into Juan Pierre's glove. Still 2-1 Milwaukee.
2:58 p.m. EDT: I just watched Adam Dunn hit his second home run of the day, and, Lord, was it a blast. Looked like it went out of Cinergy Field and into the Ohio River.
Memo to Lou Piniella: Please walk him.
3 p.m. EDT: My lovely wife just left for work. Beforehand, I wanted to pick her brain about the 2007 season. The following conversation actually happened:
Me: "Who's going to win the World Series this year?"
Bride: "I can't say the Royals, can I?"
Bride: "Um. The Tigers? They haven't won it in a while, I think. They're usually in the playoffs. I think they've got a good chance this year."
Me: "Can you name a Tiger?"
Bride: "Carl … "
(Interlude: Now, here I'm thinking she's going to say Carlos Guillen, and I'm awfully proud.)
Bride: "Carl Balboaz."
Me: "Who is Carl Balboaz?"
Bride: "I don't know."
Me: "How about another?"
Bride: "Amos Otis."
So there you have it.
The Detroit Tigers, World Series champs.
Carl Balboaz for MVP.
3:02 p.m. EDT: I remember last year's opening day marveling at a rookie pitcher named Joel Zumaya. He was making Kansas City look silly with his 100-mph fastball and breaking ball.
Now, of course, he's one of the best relievers in baseball, heir apparent to Detroit's closer job and cult legend to all amateur "Guitar Hero" players out there. He just got the Tigers out of the top of the seventh inning, aided by a great Carlos Guillen pick-spin-throw, and they're coming to bat still tied at 3.
3:12 p.m. EDT: Johnny Damon's out for the Yankees. Cramps are the culprit.
3:14 p.m. EDT: Hanley Ramirez update: 4 for 4 with four runs.
Rejoice, fantasy geeks.
3:15 p.m. EDT: Another great 3-3 game going. The Braves just tied the Phillies on Edgar Renteria's home run.
3:18 p.m. EDT: Yankees with the bases loaded and Derek Jeter at the plate. And, naturally, Captain America knocks a single up the middle off Shawn Camp to drive in two, tie the game at 5 and take Carl Pavano off the hook.
3:22 p.m. EDT: Things we learn from announcers: According to the TBS broadcast, the cheesesteak at the Braves' team hotel is "the size of a Howitzer." And they were wondering whether Edgar Renteria ate one before he crushed what they estimated as a 440-foot home run. I don't quite understand the correlation between cheesesteaks and home run power, but then I'm just a lowly blogger.
3:30 p.m. EDT: Interesting at-bat coming up. Phillies and Braves still tied at 3. Brian McCann just singled. And now it's Jeff Francoeur against Tom Gordon. Francoeur lifetime against Flash: 2 for 2 with two home runs.
3:31 p.m. EDT: So much for that. Francoeur struck out on three pitches.
3:32 p.m. EDT: Baldelli, by the way, stayed in the game after his hamstring tweak. He ended up scoring a run in the Devil Rays' four-run fifth. Still 5-5 at Yankee Stadium.
3:33 p.m. EDT: A-Rod with his first hit of the season, a shot Devil Rays shortstop Ben Zobrist probably should have had.
3:35 p.m. EDT: And now he stole a base to get in scoring position with Jason Giambi at the plate.
3:36 p.m. EDT: Single to right field, A-Rod scores, Yankees lead 6-5. That's how you manufacture a run.
3:37 p.m. EDT: Best job working out of a jam today goes to Flash Gordon, who, after loading the bases against Atlanta in the top of the ninth, struck out Brayan Pena on a fastball at his neck. Still 3-3, going into the bottom of the ninth.
3:46 p.m. EDT: Clearing out the inbox …
From Russell Burdette: I submit the A's circa '71 to '75. Rollie Fingers, Gene Tenace, I think Reggie even got in on the act!
How can you forget Billy Grabarkewitz? A few years ago, when working on a piece about hirsute baseball players, I spoke with him about Charlie Finley bribing players to grow mustaches. His was glorious, as were his teammates', but they were no Yett.
Today's A's are making a run at their predecessors, though. If Dan Haren hasn't shaved, he could be the next Geico caveman.
From Jon DePaolis: With the Cubs being sold at the end of the year, what are some of the downfalls (if any) that can happen now to my beloved Cubbies?
Conceivably, the new owner could torpedo the team, though it's not as if the Cubs have won anything in the last, oh, century. If it's Mark Cuban, as a few unsubstantiated rumors have insinuated, he'll keep the money flow going as it did this offseason. In that vein, I can't imagine anyone in MLB would allow one of its marquee franchises to be sold to a spendthrift. The Cubs are extremely valuable, and the changes would likely be more ornamental than anything serious.
From Mike Oz: You could have at least linked my blog.
Fine, you whiner.
From Brian in Columbus: I just put down $100 each on the Tigers to win the World Series and Carl Balboaz to win MVP.
Money well spent.
3:49 p.m. EDT: Just had a chance to watch Ben Sheets for an inning. Boy, does he look good. Seven innings, and the only baserunner the Dodgers have mustered was Jeff Kent, who homered in the second inning. That's 18 in a row for him.
3:51 p.m. EDT: Shame, shame, Ryan Madson. You never, ever, ever walk the leadoff man in extra innings.
3:52 p.m. EDT: Hey, Bud Selig is here in Chicago! He just called this "baseball's golden era." I wonder if he's got a "golden era" incentive clause in his contract. Like, once he reaches 5,000 times in a single calendar year, he gets $500 for every one thereafter.
3:55 p.m. EDT: Early candidate for opening day MVP: Edgar Renteria, who just smacked his second opposite-field home run of the day, this one off Ryan Madson, to give the Braves a 5-3 lead in the top of the 10th.
Shame, shame, Ryan Madson.
4:03 p.m. EDT: Nice bit of redemption for Alex Rodriguez, who just cracked a home run to center field to put the Yankees ahead 9-5. He got a standing ovation, took a curtain call and induced at least a liter of drool from the ESPN announcing team.
4:06 p.m. EDT: Braves win after four scoreless innings of work from their bullpen and Chad Paronto's first save in 125 career appearances.
4:08 p.m. EDT: Troy Glaus just gave the Blue Jays a 4-3 lead in the 10th with a single off Fernando Rodney. Glaus had a home run taken back over the wall earlier, though I imagine he'll take this instead.
4:09 p.m. EDT: Enter Sandman, exit Devil Rays. Yankees win 9-5 after Mariano Rivera strikes out the side in the ninth.
4:10 p.m. EDT: Mmmmm. Pizza.
4:14 p.m. EDT: Gil Meche starts his Kansas City Royals career with a strikeout of Julio Lugo. It can only go down from here.
4:17 p.m. EDT: David Ortiz crushed an RBI double to the left-center gap. That didn't take long.
4:18 p.m. EDT: It's going to be tough for any pitcher to beat Ben Sheets' day: nine innings, two hits, one run and no walks – including 22 in a row retired – in a 7-1 victory against the Dodgers. His fastball was pinpoint and his curveball absolutely vicious. Again, if Sheets is healthy, he's one of the best in the game.
4:34 p.m. EDT: This should be fun. Bases loaded, one out and Alex Gordon in his first major-league at-bat.
4:36 p.m. EDT: Forgot about this gem, from Franklyn in Philadelphia: So much is always made of Jewish baseball players and their choices to play on Yom Kippur, whether it is Sandy Koufax, Hank Greenberg or, in the case of having no one better to question, Gabe Kapler. On this day, the beginning of Passover, baseball season starts, and so players such as Youkilis, Ausmus and Kinsler will all play on what is an important Jewish holiday. Will baseball ever be more sensitive to both its players, who miss out on family events; or, more importantly, to its viewers, who will be too busy praying and recounting the miracle of the exodus to pray for a different kind of miracle – for Carl Pavano to deliver the Yankees his first victory in years.
For failing at the task, may Pavano be sentenced to one week of eating matzo.
(Which, incidentally, is why I went with pizza for lunch.)
4:37 p.m. EDT: Great at-bat. Down 0-2 quickly, Gordon fouled off a couple pitches before Jason Varitek went out to talk with Schilling. On the next pitch, Schilling went back to his split-finger and got Gordon to swing and miss low and away.
4:40 p.m. EDT: Speaking of great at-bats, how about one that went to the hitter. Colorado's Brad Hawpe worked NL Cy Young winner Brandon Webb for nine pitches before lining a bases-loaded single into right field to put the Rockies ahead 2-1.
4:47 p.m. EDT: From Jeremy B. in Boston: You know what stinks about the MLB.TV package? You get absolutely no choice of what video feed to watch. Which, sadly, means that every time my Mets play the Cards or Giants, I'll have to listen to Joe Buck or Jon Miller. As if I don't have to subject myself to enough of that already!
First off, I'll stick up for Buck and Miller. I think both of them are great.
But this leads me to a more important question: Does anyone mute the TV and listen to the radio anymore? My father used to do that all the time when I was growing up in Cleveland, if for no other reason than to see if Herb Score correctly identified the city in which the Indians were playing. He was about 50-50.
With XM radio available, I'm pretty sure you can get every hometown radio feed. It's kind of like Extra Innings for the ears … only without blackouts and ridiculous squabbles over money.
4:49 p.m. EDT: So that commercial with Justin Morneau cutting the line in front of a store with a cardboard cutout is clever enough, but the real question is, who would camp out for one of those crappy new hats?
Long live the classic wool 59Fifty.
5:05 p.m. EDT: From Joe Florkowski: Please, please, please do not refer to Derek Jeter as Captain America again. Captain America has had a bad enough year already with him dying and all. He is rolling around in his fictitious grave.
Also, Captain America would never play for the Yankees.
Wait a minute. Captain America died? I thought comic-book heroes never die. This is stunning.
R.I.P. Steve Rogers.
5:15 p.m. EDT: Just to clarify: Kelly Johnson is a shortstop by trade, was an outfielder by conversion and is now back in the infield at second base … which makes him dropping a pop-up that much more egregious.
5:23 p.m. EDT: From Mike in Agawam, Mass.: Just one inning into their new season and Red Sox fan already experienced the full gamut of emotions.
Top 1st – Oritz hits a run-scoring double: "I knew it. We're going to win it all. Ortiz for MVP!"
Bottom 1st – Schilling walks in the tying run, then narrowly escapes a catastrophe as he gets the No. 8 hitter to fly out: "Schilling sucks, we have no chance this year."
By the way, Schilling would likely wrestle Wickman for the last dozen strips of bacon in the clubhouse.
Bacon Bits just gave up an RBI single to Mark Grudzielanek after allowing a one-out triple to Tony Pena Jr.
5:26 p.m. EDT: When I first saw that Orlando Hudson was batting third for the Diamondbacks, I did a double take. Figured, in the absence of Carlos Quentin, that it would be Conor Jackson's spot.
Alas, O-Dawg is 3 for 3 with two runs scored an an RBI. Perhaps he watched some Lifetime before the game.
5:30 p.m. EDT: From Anthony in Cambridge, Mass.: Does anyone but me think this is absurd that Gil Meche is outpitching Curt Schilling at the moment? Am I witnessing a sign of some disaster in the midst for Boston?
Anthony has an MIT e-mail address, which just goes to show that Red Sox-induced hysteria afflicts even the best logicians. Though the Royals are now ahead 5-1 after a two-run double by Grudzielanek and an RBI single by Mark Teahen.
5:49 p.m. EDT: I just got a job offer!
Thank you, Roman Frolov, from Moscow, Russia, but I will politely decline the chance to work for Bidding Expert Company.
I am disappointed, spammers. This e-mail address has been alive for almost seven hours now and this is the only offer I've gotten. I figured at least five people would've tried to sell me Viagra by now.
Speaking of, whatever happened to Rafael Palmeiro …
5:54 p.m. EDT: Boneheaded play by Kevin Youkilis. With the Red Sox trailing 5-1, he smashed a ball down the third-base line. Alex Gordon threw the ball away, and Youkilis tried to go for second base. The ball took a perfect kick back to Mark Grudzielanek, who lobbed a throw to second base and still nabbed Youkilis by five feet.
It's the second time a Red Sox baserunner has been out at second, the first when Dustin Pedroia was gunned down by Ross Gload.
Hey, it's opening day. I'll still take the Red Sox to win it all.
5:58 p.m. EDT: This is what opening day does to people.
From George: I told you that you were wrong about Gil Meche. You are watching the 2007 AL Cy Young award winner and World Series MVP. Who would have thought that another different AL Central would be in the series?
I think he's kidding.
No, I hope he's kidding.
5:59 p.m. EDT: Some kind of way to start your big-league career: Japanese reliever Hideki Okajima just gave up a 430-foot home run to catcher John Buck on his first pitch.
6:03 p.m. EDT: Overwhelming response on the listen-to-radio-while-watching-TV question says it's impossible.
Shane from Toronto explains: I tried to watch the Jays vs. Tigers today while listening to Jerry Howarth and Alan Ashby on the radio, but the delay in the TV feed was a good second or second and a half behind the TV feed. It became very annoying quick. Sort of like one of those old kung fu movies, only starring Sheffield and the Big Hurt.
This is absurd, almost as crazy as Captain America dying. (Still can't get over it.) I'm going to start asking around about why TV and the radio can't synch up their delays, if they insist on using them.
6:09 p.m.: From Danny in Los Angeles: I saw Raffy this weekend on the street with a sign that said, "Will give mustache rides for food." Poor guy.
Not only did he answer the question, but he brought back the mustache discussion. Brilliant.
6:19 p.m.: Apologies for the delay here, but I was almost stumped by Josh in Grand Rapids, Mich.: Do we even know the last time a Kansas City starter made it into the seventh inning stretch on opening day?
Using Retrosheet, I found the answer was 1998, when Tim Belcher threw seven shutout innings.
Meche could come back for the eighth, though at 95 pitches he's probably done.
6:25 p.m. EDT: Nevermind. Meche is back out. And he just got Coco Crisp on a groundout to first.
6:28 p.m. EDT: That's it for Meche. Big standing ovation at Kauffman Stadium. Manager Buddy Bell smiled and patted him on the shoulder. And then he said, "You're still not worth $55 million."
OK, maybe he didn't. But he might as well have.
6:33 p.m. EDT: Thanks to Porter from Milwaukee for making sure the entire notebook wasn't HBO-free: If Ari Gold were Nomar's agent and the Dodgers have any more days like today, he'd be whispering "tsetse fly" in Nomar's ear.
6:39 p.m. EDT: David Ortiz just swung right over a Joel Peralta splitter to end a rally in the eighth inning. Royals still up 6-1. In baseball, 16 seeds do beat 1 seeds.
6:40 p.m. EDT: Felix Hernandez just caught Jason Kendall looking on a vicious slider. The first of at least 200 strikeouts this season.
6:49 p.m. EDT: Did Tony Pena Jr. really triple again?
6:50 p.m. EDT: He did. And, on that note, it's time to put this thing to bed.
It's been fun. Thanks to the hundreds of people who e-mailed with thoughts, quips and gripes. Thanks to the Bride for her intrepid predictions and introducing us to Carl Balboaz. Thanks to Mark for getting the items up as quickly as possible. And thanks to Major League Baseball for its game that no matter how many ways it tries it simply can't ruin.