~ Mary Schmich
Opening day is magical. The kick-off of the season. I look forward to it from about 5 minutes after the World Series ends. It is a blank slate; the possibilities are limitless. Your team is going to lead their division from the first game all the way to the end, well, at least in your mind and heart. Your favourite player will have a career year. No-hitters and walk-off home runs, game saving catches or game winning singles, the perfectly executed suicide squeeze bunt and the un-assisted triple play; they all lay ahead of us. Being in the sun on a summer afternoons and chilly April and October nights. Rain outs and day / night doubleheaders. Ah, it just does not get much better.
So, what happened on Opening Day, April 1, 2021 once the games started and reality took over? Let’s look at the scores and some of the more interesting “highlights”.
Blue Jays 3 / Yankees 2 in 10 innings:
13 strikeouts by the Yankee hitters and a fly ball which Randal Grichuk of the Blue Jays hit over Aaron Judge’s head for the RBI. Game goes to the Blue Jays.
Indians 2 / Tigers 3:
Miquel Cabrera hits his 350th home run as a Tiger. Due to the snowy conditions, he does not see that the ball went over the wall and slides into second base. He is informed that the ball went out and gets up to finish rounding the bases, with a smile on his face.
Twins 5 / Brewers 6 in 10 innings:
I caught the last couple innings on AM 620 WTMJ on my way home from training clients. The legendary Bob Uecker, entering his 51st year as broadcaster for his hometown team was in mid-season form. Bob is talking about how tailgating will be allowed in a few weeks in the parking lots prior to the home games and says if you don’t personally tailgate, just walk through the parking lot, grab a hotdog off someone’s grill and run. He said this in his usual deadpan voice. He is a true treasure! When the Brewers tied it in the bottom of the nineth his voice rose with emotion and excitement; even more so when they won in the home-half of the tenth. I could listen to Ueck for hours.
An aside, I absolutely HATE the runner (the last out of the previous inning) starting the extra innings on second base rule. Of all the idiotic things. It’s like neighborhood sandlot ball when you don’t have enough players to field all the positions you play “right field out”, “pitchers hand out” and you sub the last out for the runner on base that is next in the batting order. Just ridiculous at the professional level. I’ll discuss some of the new rules (and some old ones) in an upcoming post.
Pirates 5 / Cubs 3
Braves 2 / Phillies 3:
Phillies shortstop Didi Gregorius makes an outstanding over the shoulder with his back to the infield sliding catch while fighting the wind to end the top of the ninth inning.
Diamondbacks 7 / Padres 8
Dodgers 5 / Rockies 8:
With Dodger Justin Turner on first base, Cody Bellinger homered for what turned out to be an RBI single and an out. Scratching your heads? Here’s how it occurred. Turner runs on the fly ball, rounds second as the ball appears to be caught by outfielder Raimel Tapia, but it bounced out of his glove and over the fence. Turner turns around re-touches second on his way back to first, which is the correct thing to do in catch situations, however, Bellinger stops as he approaches second to get clarification if it was an out or a homer, Turner on his way back to first to tag up ends up being passed by Bellinger. By rule Bellinger is called out and is awarded a single and Turner is sent home to score the run. It happens occasionally but for the life of me, I don’t understand how it does; these are professional players who should be aware of their surroundings and the rules of the game. Just saying.
Cardinals 11 / Reds 6
Rays 1 / Marlins 0
Rangers 10 / Royals 14:
A rather dubious record is set, neither starting pitcher lasted two innings.
Brad Keller, the Kansas City starter went an inning and a third, giving up 9-hits, 6-runs, and 2-walks. His ERA is at 40.50 Kyle Gibson, the Texas starter went one third of an inning, giving up 4-hits, 5-runs, with 3-walks and one strike out. His ERA is at 135.00
White Sox 3 / Angels 4:
Luis Robert of the Sox hits a leg double, steals third with two out (not necessarily a good idea) and scores on a subsequent wild pitch. Speed beyond belief from this young man. Lucas Giolito went 5 and a third innings, giving up 2-hits, 2-runs, 2-walks and 8-strikeouts. Solid performance, perhaps taken out too soon. While I hate the “replay challenges” I think La Russa, the Sox manager should have asked for a review of Nick Madrigal being called out at second, sure looked like he was safe on the slide with his leg hitting the base prior to the tag.
Orioles / Red Sox:
Mets / Nationals:
Astros 8 / Athletics 1
Giants 7 / Mariners 8
We had sunshine and snow. Close games and a blow-out. Errors and defensive gems. Plus, unbelievably, three pitchers from the same high school were the opening day starters for their respective teams. Lucas Giolito of the White Sox, Max Fried of the Atlanta Braves and Jack Flaherty of the Saint Louis Cardinals were all pitchers under now White Pitching Coach Ethan Katz, who was the pitching coach of Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angelis, California. This has never occurred before. What are the odds of that? You tell me.
And I’d be derelict in my duties if I didn’t mention the games brought back fond (beyond belief) memories of Chicago’s own Ed Farmer, the White Sox radio man and former relief pitcher who passed away last April 1st. You truly did “hang a star on it” your whole life and career. Miss you dearly sir.
A little something for everyone yesterday with another 161 games to come; can’t wait.
~ Coach Mike