Opening Day 2010 in Pictures: America's National Pastime Is Back
Forget the rhetoric about the smell of freshly-cut grass or the sight of newly-painted white lines, Opening Day is all about one thing...Baseball.
After 151 days without a meaningful game—considerably more if you're a fan of the Mets, Pirates, or Royals—America's national pastime is back.
With the pomp and circumstance of the first day of the new season came everything we love about Opening Day: fly-overs, Presidential first pitches, player introductions.
The start of the 2010 season certainly lived up to expectations. Uber-prospect Jason Heyward went yard in his first career at-bat, Curtis Granderson went deep in his first shot with the Yankees, and Albert Pujols reminded everyone just why he's the best in the business.
There were walk-off wins, inside the park home runs, defensive gems, double plays, and more hot dog vendors than you could shake a bat at.
Baseball season is finally in full flow, and here's some snaps from Opening Day to prove it.
Texas Rangers: Walk-Off
The Texas Rangers did not have a hit off Toronto's Shaun Marcum through the first six innings, but they rallied to thwart the no-hit bid and walk off with the win.
There was an AJ Burnett-esque pie to the face for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who drove home the winning runs with the bases loaded to get the Rangers an unlikely 5-4 win in Arlington.
This was the first walk-off victory for the Rangers on Opening Day since 1980.
Florida Marlins: On the Bubble?
For the first time in more than four months, players were back on the field and every team's fans had reason to hope. Opening Day is all about optimism.
Guys were chewing gum and spitting out seeds in the dugout, and spectators were getting their first fill of hot dogs, pretzels, and ballpark beer this spring.
Not every team will have a fairytale season, and all but one will go home empty handed come November.
Chris Coghlan and the Florida Marlins didn't start their season off as expected, with a 7-1 loss to the New York Mets. Whose bubbles will burst in 2010?
Atlanta Braves: Jason Heyward's Memorable Debut
Talk about making a first impression. Hype? What hype?
Jason Heyward, the most highly-touted rookie of the 2010 season, hit a three-run home run in his very first at-bat of his Braves career, dispatching a Carlos Zambrano 2-0 pitch into the bullpen in right-center field.
Heyward is just the fifth Brave to go yard in his first ever plate appearance, and as he made his way back into the dugout he received a hug from a beaming Chipper Jones, one of his most vocal supporters.
Welcome to the Show, kid.
Tailgating Fun in the A-T-L
With football season several months away and tailgating virtually unknown at pro basketball and hockey games, it was left to the baseball fans across the country to get those barbecues fired up in parking lots.
Fans arrived early and they arrived in their masses for Opening Day, and nothing announces spring's arrival better than a chicken breast, hamburger, or hot dog with family and friends outside your favorite ballpark.
These fans in Atlanta were just five of thousands who threw some meat on the fire ahead of first pitch. This will be a popular sight around baseball for the next few months, so grab your drink, find the relish, and get your grill on.
St Louis Cardinals: Albert Pujols
Seriously? Teams apparently didn't learn their lesson last year?
If you pitch to Pujols, he will hurt you. Cincinnati didn't read that memo, I guess.
Pujols went deep in his first at-bat of the season, and he launched a two-run shot to right in the seventh.
MLB.com reports that it was the first multihomer game by a Cardinal on Opening Day since Pujols hit two in Philadelphia in 2006.
It was Pujols' 34th multi-homer game of his career, and the only time the Cards have hit four home runs on the first day of the season.
Pujols also scored four runs, equaling a personal best, as the Reds lost 11-6 at the Great American Ball Park.
Take me Out To the Ball Game
Opening Day is a fantastic experience for baseball fans. Parents can bring their kids to the ballpark and share memories of Opening Days gone by.
This Rangers fan was on hand to see probably the best of the day one matchups around the league. He saw fantastic pitching, timely hitting, and the thing that every home fan loves...the walk-off win.
50,299 crammed into the Ballpark in Arlington for this one—the eighth largest Rangers crowd in history.
Chicago White Sox: Mark Buehrle
Mark Buehrle is like a fine wine...he just gets better with age.
After last year's perfect game, the White Sox pitcher proved he still has all the tools to compete at the very highest level. While Buehrle was perfect, it was DeWayne Wise who kept the history-making night on track with a memorable catch and tumble.
Gold Glove-winning Buehrle did everything that night except turn in a highlight reel defensive gem...when you go 27 up and 27 down, that kind of speaks for itself.
But against the Cleveland Indians at US Cellular Field, the lefty wasted no time in throwing down an early nomination for play of the year.
The Indians' Lou Marson hit a liner that ricocheted off Buehrle's shin and rolled towards the first base line.
Buehrle charged the ball, gloved it in foul territory, and flipped a no-look pass to Konerko through his legs. The first baseman barre-handed the throw as the pitcher fell to the floor.
You can see the play here here. The picture doesn't do it justice.
Washington Nationals: A Presidential Visit
The President of the United States of America wants a mulligan. After warming up with Pudge Rodriguez, Obama says he was disappointed that his first pitch to Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman missed up and away.
The Pres told broadcasters he would have been better if he had a full inning to get loose, and he laughed that he was intentionally walking his imaginary batter. Joking aside though, it was good to see him back on the mound for Opening Day.
He was greeted by a mixture of applause and boos after pulling on his White Sox cap, but people should just be happy that he's taking an interest in out national pastime.
Houston Astros: No Answer To Reigning Cy Young's Dominance
Minute Maid Park is one of my favorite parks in baseball, but the Astros weren't able to usher int he 2010 season with a victory.
Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants beat the 'Stros 5-2 in Texas, with the reigning NL Cy Young award winner baffling the hosts over seven innings of shutout ball.
The Giants got to Roy Oswalt early, plating three against him in the second inning and giving their ace enough run support to get him through the game with the lead intact.
Leading the charge was shortstop Edgar Renteria, who went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a walk.
Arizona Diamondbacks: A Perfect Day For Baseball
Dan Haren was dominant over seven innings, Stephen Drew hit an inside the park home run, and the Arizona Diamondbacks rolled to a 6-3 victory in their home opener to the San Diego Padres.
Almost 50,000 fans crammed into Chase Field on a gorgeous 74-degree day in the desert, watching their team line up under perfect blue skies.
The game may have lasted just a tick over two-and-a-half hours, but with baseball, and weather, like this, who's not going to want to get out to cheer on the D'Backs throughout the year?
Kansas City Royals: Blue Sky Thinking
Through six innings on Opening Day in Kansas City, it looked as if David DeJesus, Scott Podsednik, and Co. would be starting 2010 with a victory. Had it not been for a six-run seventh inning, they surely would have sent the home fans away happy.
More than 40,000 people filled Kaufmann Stadium as pre-game ceremonies took center stage around the sea of baby blue.
Whitey Herzog, who led KC to prominence in the '70s, threw out the first pitch to George Brett, a man he will join in Cooperstown this summer.
American Idol winner David Cook sang the national anthem, and even though rain showers and clouds threatened to dampen the spirits of fans, the Kansas faithful will hope there's nothing but blue skies ahead.
Milwaukee Brewers: Running Sausages
Mascots were back in full force on Opening Day around the Majors. Never mind Bernie Brewer, it was all about the famous sausages at Miller Park.
Subway may have its famous $5 footlong, but Milwaukee has five 10-foot wieners dressed up and ready to go.
The sausages are unofficial mascots of the Milwaukee Brewers, representing sausages from around the world...Germany, Poland, Italy, America, and Spain.
They often race around the park between innings, and they've became a fan favorite in Wisconsin.
Seattle Mariners: Legends Share a Laugh
Two stalwarts of the Mariners shared a joke during batting practice in Oakland. The iconic figures of Ichiro and Ken Griffey could be seen laughing with each other near the cages, begging the question "What was so funny?"
This is a perfect picture for a caption competition...answers on a postcard please.
The Mariners have to wait a little bit longer for their home opener, but they won't care too much about that after ruining the A's party 5-3.
Boston Red Sox: Opening Night
Okay, okay, it's not technically Opening Day, but what's better than a nightcap at Fenway to start the season?
There were fireworks before the game, fireworks after the game, a blown lead, a debut home run, and an eighth-inning performance from Neil Diamond. What more can you ask for? The Yankees may not have emerged victorious in Beantown, but the outlook is obviously as bright for them as any other team in baseball.
Baseball is back, and even if that means listening to Jon Miller and Joe Morgan every Sunday night for the next six months, I'll take it.
On a side note, did anyone else see V-Tek leave Johnny Pesky hanging during pre-game player introductions?