A day as anticipated as MLB's 2008 Opening Day couldn't have been any better.
You can forget Japan, and, as great as it was seeing Ryan Zimmerman baptize the new stadium in Washington, you can forget that, too.
Monday was the real opening day for all baseball fans. The day you dust off your old ball cap, and begin a new season with hope, whether you are a Pirates fan or an Indians fan.
The MLB's famous tagline says it best, "I Live for This." Boy, do I ever, and you should, as well.
Yesterday was filled with everything you could ask for, and, even if your team didn't start off the year at a perfect 100 percent winning percentage, there was plenty to be excited about for any baseball fan. Why is opening day so great?
Because of the day that follows it—today. Today and probably for a few more days, Pirates fans can say, "We have the MLB's league leader in homeruns."
Today, a team like the Nationals or the Royals can be optimistic about this season, even though they are destined for no better than third place.
Simply put, because of right now. They are the ones on top of the baseball world.
One guy on top of the baseball world is Tony Pena Jr., of those same Royals.
Kansas City went toe-to-toe with that juggernaut lineup of the Tigers and matched them, blow for blow.
Gil Meche kept his team in it against the great Justin Verlander, and a scrappy Royals team got their manager Trey Hillman his first win.
Pena was the man of the hour for that scrappy Royals squad; delivering the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th inning.
Pena went 1-5, but that lone one counted as he knocked in catcher John Buck with a bloop single to centerfield.
In comes Joakim Soria, and the Kansas City Royals are on top of the AL Central. Rejoice, Kansas City!
On the other side of that division was a team that was expected to be in it for the whole year, but the situation is special for other reasons.
While most people think Cleveland will be in the hunt all year long, there were still those fans who needed some reassurance. A little bit of evidence that tells them that the Tribe is for real.
And, boy, they are for real all right.
After a rough start to the reigning Cy Young Award winner’s day, the offense supported C.C. Sabathia with all they had.
The man leading the charge was none other than questioned right fielder Franklin Gutierrez.
Many aren't sure if he is the year-long plan in right field, but, after Monday, now many aren't sure where this kid came from and how he is so good.
Gutierrez ignited the Indians' offense with a three-run homer in the bottom of the second that set off a light in the defending AL Central champs' heads.
From there on, he got a few more hits and drew a crucial walk to load the bases in the bottom of the eighth.
That set the stage for a Casey Blake double that knocked in three runs, including Gutierrez who scored all the way from first base.
After a 10-8 victory over the White Sox, Cleveland, consider yourselves reassured, 2008 could be the year.
Then, you have the neighboring Pittsburgh Pirates.
On the brink of setting a dismal record for consecutive losing seasons, Pittsburgh delayed that thought for at least two more games.
Who exactly was the man behind it all?
Xavier Nady, the right fielder with an extra hop in his step Tuesday morning.
Like fellow right fielder Gutierrez, Nady also went deep. Only he doubled his pleasure and made it a little more exciting.
Nady went 4-7 with four runs scored, four runs knocked in, two home runs, and a double.
Not only did "The X-Man" give the Pirates the lead once, he did it twice. The second time making sure it was just enough for the Pirates to escape.
It was a game the Pirates typically end up losing. They had a comfortable lead going into the ninth inning.
Their usually reliable closer with great command—Matt Capps—was coming in with men on base and a five-run lead.
Obviously, the Braves came back to tie it, in typically frustrating Pirates' fashion.
The game continued until the 12th inning, when Nady knocked in three runs with his second blast of the night.
Up until then, the Pirates' faithful probably were thinking, "Same Old Buccos."
Well, think again, Pirates fans. They may have given up two more runs to cut it even closer.
But you are 1-0, and at least for now, you aren't MLB record-setting losers like everyone thought you were.
It's baseball season, the greatest time of the year, even for Pirates fans.