Opening Day in Major League Baseball is my favorite day of the year – and this one had plenty of highlights that suggest that 2011 could be as exciting a season as can be imagined.
- Red catcher Ramon Hernandez hits a three-run, game-winning homer to beat the Milwaukee Brewers – an at bat that happened, in part, because Brandon Phillips emulated Chad Ochocinco to avoid a Casey McGehee tag two batters earlier. (McGehee claimed that Phillips left the baseline, but replays suggest the juke was legit.)
- Jason Heyward launched a season starting homer for the second straight season.
- Cameron Maybin, newly acquired centerfielder for the Padres, launched a game-tying two-out homer in the ninth, allowing San Diego to trip up the Cardinals in extra-innings. Albert Pujols didn’t help the cause, becoming the first player to ground into three double plays on Opening Day.
- The night ended with a remarkable pitcher’s duel between two young guns. Los Angeles Dodger Clayton Kershaw outdueled San Francisco Giant Tim Lincecum to give Don Mattingly his first managerial victory.
If you didn’t enjoy those games, then you just don’t like Baseball…
Nearly everything over the last day or two had to do with decisions on whether or not to put some player on the DL for various knicks, pulls, and injuries. Those getting to miss the fun for at least a week or so include Jason Bay, Brandon Webb (still), J.P. Howell, Tommy Hunter, Scott Feldman, Cody Ross, Johan Santana, Aaron Cook, Scott Olsen, Brian Wilson, Clint Barmes, Corey Patterson, Brandon Morrow, Frank Francisco, Homer Bailey, Brad Lidge, Chase Utley, Dayan Viciedo, Domonic Brown, David Aardsma, Franklin Gutierrez, Jake Peavy, Johnny Cueto, John Baker, Geoff Blum, Zach Duke, Jason Kendall, Francisco Cervelli, and Andrew Bailey. (There are plenty of others, and if you have a fantasy baseball team, you are aware of many of these guys…
A new DL move, Giants outfielder Aaron Rowand was listed for today – Rowand has a fractured cheekbone.
Ronny Paulino has a few days left on his steroids suspension, so the Mets placed him on the restricted list.
A couple of days ago, the Phillies had signed Luis Castillo as an insurance policy while Chase Utley allows his troublesome left knee to heal. That didn’t work out (Castillo is relatively immobile these days and his bat hasn’t been healthy for at least four months now), so the Phillies signed Ronnie Belliard. Belliard, who turns 36 next Thursday, had an unimpressive season as a utiltiy infielder and pinch hitter for the Dodgers in 2010 (2 – 19 -.216) and a weak spring for the Yankees (.136 in 22 at bats), so this may be his last couple of months in the big leagues unless he can get a few clutch hits.
The Arizona Diamondbacks, seeing that shortstop Stephen Drew wasn’t 100% for opening day, signed former Mariner glove man Josh Wilson. Wilson isn’t a bad guy to have around, but don’t count on him to hit like Drew can.
On the MLB Drama Network
Not sure if you are following the Barry Bonds trial, but we now have a handful of players who all admitted that they used steroids provided by Greg Anderson, Bonds’ personal trainer who is sitting in jail for his unwillingness to discuss the number of needles he put in Bond’s belly and butt. Some of them admitted that they did because of the success Bonds was having since hiring Anderson to build up his physique. A former personal shopper for Bonds says she saw Anderson give Bonds a shot in his belly button (ouch!), something Bonds told her was “…a little something for the road.”
Not that I am plugging my book (but I am):
Today is the day that Rube Waddell died, the result of a long fight against Tuberculosis, a major killer of men and women 100 years ago. Waddell died in 1914 while convalescing in a San Antonio nursing home. At the time of his death, he weighed at least 60 pounds less than his playing weight, 210.
Among those celebrating with cake, cards, or remembrances are…
Ron Perranoski (1936) – Dodger pitcher and pitching coach
Phil Niekro (1939) – greatest knuckleball pitcher ever
Rusty Staub (1944) – Le Grande Orange, and one of my favorite players as a kid
Willie Montanez (1948)
Frank Castillo (1969)
Matt Herges (1970)
Will Rhymes (1983)
John Axford (1983) – who gave up that homer to Ramon Hernandez yesterday (ouch)
Daniel Murphy (1985)