What's Making Me Talk: What We Should Remember From MLB Opening Week
The general joy that comes from Major League Baseball’s opening day is fantastic.
When the time comes, people usually state what they love about the occasion and I don't need to tell you the run-of-the-mill type comments that come from pieces about the first day of baseball.
Well I'm past it and you should be too.
I love opening day, don't get me wrong, it's a reason for celebration, elation, hope, optimism, nervousness, thrill, and even some pain.
But man, I love looking back on opening day.
Think about all the opening days in the past and who the heroes were. Think about all the good stories that started to come around.
Then remember just how many of those heroes stuck around and how many of those stories maintained themselves.
For instance, look at some of the performances and games from last year.
Last year, the Tampa Bay Rays won their first season opener in eight years. Many wondered, especially after they finished April with their hair on fire, if that success would continue. It did.
The Detroit Tigers started the year in awful fashion. They got swept by the Royals and their monster offense even got shutout by Brian Bannister. Many thought that wouldn't last. It did.
Remember the big days by Nate McLouth and Xavier Nady for the Pirates? Nate McLouth, really? Yes, Nate McLouth, an NL All-Star in 2008.
Remember Franklin Gutierrez hitting a big home run for the Indians in their win over Chicago? No? Probably because he didn't do much after that. You might remember him doing it this year though, because, well...He did it again this year.
Look, things happen on opening day that don't really matter. The Washington Nationals out-slugged the eventual World Champion Philadelphia Phillies. But it's still fun to see the following and then look back on it all a few months later.
So, here are the lasting memories that you need to remember a few months from now. This way you can look back and say, "Man, that was pretty meaningless."
Daniel Murphy is one of those heroes of opening day that you wonder about being around later this year.
But he's also one of those ones that could very well be one of this year's breakout players. All the stories floating around are about that Murphy kid, and how he loves to hit.
It was a 1-5 day, but he single-handedly knocked in both Met runs to win the game.
There are a few things to take away from Texas' win over Cleveland.
First off on Cleveland's side, Cliff Lee gave up seven runs in one game. He gave up just four runs in the entire month of April in 2008. Is that 2008 Cliff Lee really gone that much?
Plus the Indians offense sputtered against Kevin Millwood, who said he felt much more stronger. Has Mike Maddux really fixed this rotation with the idea of, gasp, " conditioning."
Two offensive notes I have for the Rangers. Has Jarrod Saltalamacchia arrived? He seems to hit every time the Indians are the opposition, but he sure did put on a display for the Rangers.
Is Hank Blalock back? Sure does seem like it. He may be swinging good, but if he stays healthy, Texas won’t miss Milton Bradley so much.
History was made in Arizona, in fact, it was made twice.
Felipe Lopez and Tony Clark hit two home runs each, from each side of the plate. The first time ever someone has done it on Opening Day and it was done twice.
Some people thought the Arizona Diamondbacks didn't have enough pop. I think they've got a little, even if they got shutout by Ubaldo Jimenez in the second game.
Hopefully for Coloardo, the great start for Troy Tulowitzki is a sign of good things to come.
Perhaps we picked the wrong Marlins' youngster to have a big year. Not only did Emilio Bonifacio beat out Cameron Maybin for the leadoff spot, he had himself quite the game.
Not only did he hit an inside-the-park home run and collect two RBI, he followed that up with two more RBI in the Marlins second win over the Nationals.
Jorge Cantu is carrying over his 2008 success into 2009 as well with two home runs in the first two games.
The Marlins are just taking it to the Nationals, as they probably should.
How about another bad first start for CC Sabathia? He did it last year with Cleveland, even took it a few starts further. Against Baltimore he struggled to find the strike zone.
Sabathia gets amped up for things really easily and when that happens, bad CC appears. For his sake, I hope the fact that he's pitching for the Yankees isn't the reason for that ampedness.
How about former teammate going toe-to-toe with Sabathia and getting the win though? Jeremy Guthrie, once a member of Cleveland with Sabathia, is now the ace of the Baltimore staff and his start was preserved by the Oriole bullpen, barely.
Was that the last time Jason Motte will get a shot at closing games? It certainly wasn't the best debut. The Cardinals were able to bounce back though and they put up enough offense to not need someone to come in for a save in Tuesday’s game.
Paul Maholm might actually be for real. Last year he flew under the radar, mainly because he didn't get any wins. He didn't pick up the win in Monday’s game, but he pitched well enough.
MLB Opening Day hero number two, Adam Lind.
Lind knocked in six runs off four hits against the Tigers in the first game. Things didn't go as well in the second one, but Lind is another guy you look back on a few months from now and wonder if he's still around doing good things.
Justin Verlander didn't put confidence into the people think 2008 was a mistake.
And wow, Brandon Inge is powering the Tigers offense?
The Cubs and Astros have split two games and newly anointed closer Kevin Gregg picked up the save in the first game despite giving up a run. One has to wonder how long this song and dance will last.
Alfonso Soriano is doing his best for the Cubs with a pair of home runs, while Ivan Rodriguez is getting off to a rocky start for his new team, with five strikeouts in eight at-bats.
How about the great story of Ken Griffey Jr. returning to Seattle and hitting a home run in his first game back with the club? It does not get any better than that.
Actually it does.
As mentioned, new acquisition Franklin Gutierrez looked good and Felix Hernandez looked even better.
Things looked good for Seattle in game two when Erik Bedard struck out eight, but Brandon Morrow back in the closers role, found a way to lose it. How about thing one and thing two, Denard Span and Alexi Casilla, at the top of the lineup for the Twins?
Anyone have an eye on James Loney? He can hit and in the first game he did that and even knocked in some runs.
The Dodgers have to love the way Loney and Matt Kemp are hitting with Manny in the middle of the lineup. Chase Headley was big for the Padres in the second game. There might not be much going on in San Diego, but keep an eye out for him.
The Angels seem to be surviving without John Lackey and Ervin Santana. Joe Saunders put in a great effort and the bullpen took care of the rest on Monday, and Dustin Mosely did his best on Tuesday.
The test comes beyond that though.
We also may be seeing the beginning of the manifestation of Howie Kendrick's potential.
How about the new-old face Jason Giambi having a big part in the Athletics win?
Alex Gordon is giving a lot of Royals' fans hope that this is the year he's going to start to light things on fire. He got off to the great start by single-handedly putting the Royals in a position to win.
Kyle Farnsworth is giving a lot of Royals’ fans jitters that this year he’s going to infest their bullpen and light it on fire. He did a great job of single-handedly putting the Royals in a position to lose, lighting a little bit of a spark on the sticks.
On a side note, Jim Thome loves hitting home runs on opening day.
Boston ace Josh Beckett has given everyone a reason to fear him and the Red Sox. Seeing Jason Varitek and last year's MVP Dustin Pedroia produce didn't hurt either.
Don’t worry about the Rays though; Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria are ready to go.
Worrisome ace No. 3, Tim Lincecum. He only gave up three runs, but he went just three innings in the Giants opener against the Brewers.
Thankfully for the Giants, the offense that was supposed to be their downfall came through in a big way. Ride the Travis Ishikawa train as long as you can.
I bet the faithful in Philadelphia are a little spooked. Not because they haven't really hit much, but because the Braves rotation looks for real and the Mets bullpen looks fixed.
Jair Jurrjens and Derek Lowe put on great performances for Atlanta and even got some help from a cast of characters that include Jeff Francoeur and rookie Jordan Schafer.
So what stands out the most, and what should we brush off?
I'd say Jordan Schafer going deep in his first major league at-bat would start things off.
People know who Adam Lind is now after his six-RBI performance against the Tigers. But will they remember him in August, even when the Blue Jays are out of the playoff race?
Seattle may be a little bit better than people have been expecting, especially if King Felix pitches like that on most nights and Erik Bedard stays healthy. Ken Griffey Jr. has at least given them something to feel good about if the success doesn't sustain itself.
Daniel Murphy is going to be one of the people I've got to follow this year. The Mets have enough faith in him to put him in the two-hole and tell Ryan Church he may be the one that loses playing time to Gary Sheffield?
They must really like him.
A lot of people are going to get on CC Sabathia's case and it will get worse if he struggles again. But even if he does, how quickly have we forgotten what he did at the end of 2008?
I'd also go a little easy on Cy Young winners Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee. I don't know what happened with Lincecum, but he's afforded a few screw-ups in a year. Lee on the other hand has never pitched well in Texas, so it isn’t a surprise he struggled.
I want to look back at Texas though in a few months and see if Mike Maddux's approach to the Ranger rotation is working. That, too me, has been one of the more underrated stories that could turn out to be very huge in the AL West.
Finally, I think what the Marlins are doing with their offense in that empty park is fun and sad. Fun because of what Bonifacio has done and the intrigue will be if he can keep it up.
Sad because you have Chicago fans dealing with the cold to see their White Sox up north and then beautiful baseball weather being put to waste down in Florida by Marlin fans.
Even if it's the Nationals, opening week is fun and it gets better when your team starts hammering away on the other one. I know they did fine in game one, but their attendance dropped about 60 percent for Tuesday's game.
That is something that I know will last all season, but I sincerely hope it doesn't.
Nino Colla is Talking every Monday of the baseball season, or whenever time needs to be wasted, provided objects don't get thrown.
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