Monday, March 31, 2008

And they're off!

Opening day is finally here! Yes, I realize the games in Japan counted, and I understand the Nationals opened their new ballpark Sunday night, but today everyone played, and baseball season has begun for all teams. Everyone is tied in the standings - the one day of the year when every team has a chance at the playoffs and World Series glory. Hope truly springs eternal on opening day.

Before we look at all of the bad baseball around the league this Monday, March 31, let me be the first to congratulate Jay Gibbons (pictured), formerly of the Baltimore Orioles. He was waived today, and the O's will pay him 11.9 million dollars for the next two seasons to do absolutely nothing. Criminal.

OK. While Gibbons counts his money, lets dive in to a remarkable opening first day of games...

Barry Zito opened up another year in which he'll earn waaaay too much money by going 5 innings, allowing 4 runs on 8 hits. Nice contract, Brian Sabean.

Tom Gordon reminded us why he's not the closer in Philadelphia, recording only one out in the 9th, allowing 4 hits and 5 runs while "earning" the loss.

It was a rough day for Chicago baseball fans. Mark Buehrle opened the season for the White Sox but was pulled after 1.2 innings. His line: 7 hits, 7 runs, 1 walk... and a no decision! Octavio Dotel gave allowed 3 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks in the 8th. How is this guy still being given a chance to pitch?

On the north side of the city, Kerry Wood blew his first save chance as a Cub, erasing a nice outing from Carlos Zambrano and lights-out relief from Carlos Marmol, who is sure to assume the closer role sooner rather than later. Wood allowed 3 runs on 2 hits in his half of the ninth. No worries, though, as Eric Gagne responded by blowing his first save with the Brewers, imploding in the bottom of the 9th, surrendering 5 hits and 3 runs. And just when you thought this game couldn't get any more spectacularly bad: Bob Howry allowed a run in the 10th to pick up the loss, giving Gagne the win. Well played, sir.

Jeff Francis was apparently praying for rain; after going 2.1 innings, walking 5 and allowing 5 runs on 4 hits, the game was postponed due to weather and the stats won't count! It's an MLB rule... bizarre.

Damaso Marte and Matt Capps combined for 5 runs and 4 walks to choke away the Pirates opener in the 9th, though it was nullified by Manny Acosta and Jeff Bennett in the Braves half of the ninth when the worked together to give up 5 runs, blowing the lead. Franquelis Osoria would eventually win this one for the Bucs.

So there ya' go... bad baseball from all over the country! It was an opening day for the ages. I don't know if every night will be covered in such detail - I'd imagine not. Perhaps I'll limit this to one or two daily bad performances. Though on a day when every team is in the playoff picture, it felt appropriate. Ever team except the Marlins, that is, who trotted out Mark Hendrickson as their opening day starter. I've said it once on this site already but I'm feeling it again - it's going to be a good year.

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