Opening Day Live And In High-Def

11:56 AM — Opening Day is finally here!  As promised, I’m here to bring you all of the action from the comfort of my living room and in front of my HD TV.  I’ve got guys from my main local league here with me, and we’re ready to get the MLB (and our fantasy) season started.

Unfortunately, the weather is already wreaking havoc on the schedule, as we’re seeing postponements in Chicago and in Boston.  No Evan Longoria for me, at least for today.  But there’s plenty of other action to kick us off with, starting in Cincinnati where I’ll get a chance to see my 2009 breakout candidate, Joey Votto, for the first time this year.

The action starts now!

12:09 PM — Opening day festivities take forever.  Mia Carruthers is apparently singing the national anthem — am I supposed to know who she is?  They’re also dedicating the press box to someone who’s dead.  That’s a good legacy, I guess.

Ah … apparently Carruthers is some reality-show participant.  Yippee.  My friend wants to know if she’s a lefty or a righty.  Good times ahead today.

12:16 PM — My friend Steve calls on the phone to ask if there are any games not being affected by the weather.  When the subject of the Orioles comes up, he says that Baltimore fans must be hoping for 162 rainouts in a row at this point.  That’s an interesting strategy, Cotton — let’s see how that works out for them!

1:26 PM — We’ve got another game going at last — Cleveland at Texas.  I’ve got three guys going in this game, Kinsler and Nelson Cruz from the Rangers, Travis Hafner from the Indians.  We turn the game on just in time to see Hafner make his first out of the year.  He looks like he’s dropped at least 20 pounds from the Pronk of a couple of season ago.  Hmmm … I wonder if that could have anything to do with steroid testing?

Back to the Mets game,  and Aaron Harang is in trouble.  The Harang owner from last year doesn’t seem to be all that surprised.  It’s raining in Cincinnati, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be a factor.

The Cincy announcers just called Harang a “warrior”.  My friend Amazing Grace comments, “Maybe he fought for the French in WWII”.   The “warrior” is at 85 pitches through 4 innings — he’s not long for this game at this rate.

1:39 PM — We flip to the  Texas game in time to see Chris Davis strikeout and send his bat flying into the stands.  Is it just me, or do bats that head out of play always seem to have a magnet that draws them to the oldest people in the stands?  Thankfully, no one but the Chris Davis owners are hurt by the strikeout.

FWIW, “Warrior” is the new hot term for us right now, as in “best way to describe someone who sucks without actually saying it”.  Or, in other words,  “Kevin Millwood is a warrior” or “Dusty Baker is a warrior”.  Speaking of Dusty, the Reds announcers just talked about teams looking to try and get guys on base to stimulate their offense.  Ironic, considering Baker — the enemy of OBP — is the manager they’ll be watching all season.

And Ian Kinsler brings home the first runs of the season for my defending fantasy league champions with a 2-run single off of Cliff Lee.  Whatever pact with the Devil Lee made in 2008, apparently it’s ended.

Amazing Grace is entertaining us with song renditions as we move through the day’s games.  First it’s “I can’t live without Choo”, now it’s “I left my heart in Ben Francisco”.  Classic.  Of course, he’s forgetting “Stuck in the middle with Choo”, but who’s complaining?

And back to the Reds, where we see Gary Sheffield doing the same thing as we’re doing — sitting and watching the game.  But for slightly more money than we’re getting, however.

2:10 PM — Could there be a more perfect opening day?  We’ve had burgers and hot dogs for lunch, we’ve got a friendly Texas Hold’em game going, and they’re replaying famous first pitches on FSSW.

The “Warrior” is out of the Reds game, replaced by a pitcher I’ve never heard of and who looks like he’s 5 feet tall.  Seriously, who is this guy?  He pitches around the pitcher Santana and walks Reyes to load the bases.  My comment is, “He hasn’t thrown 100 pitches yet — so Baker is sure to leave him in”.

Speaking of Santana, he’s gone in the 6th.  In 2008, this would have guaranteed a blown win by the Mets pen.  We’ll see if a new year brings new results.  Meanwhile, Hank Blalock crushes a 3-run HR off of the lefty Lee.  Amazing Grace celebrates as his team jumps into the early lead.

3:35 PM — And I win the first mini-poker game by hitting a King on the river.  Life is good.  Then again, I also remember that I actually had four guys in the Texas-Cleveland tilt, having forgotten about middle infielder Asdrubal Cabrera entirely.   I’m not sure what my amnesia concerning Cabrera says about either the player — or the team I drafted this year.

3:49 PM — Amazing Grace calls the Tony Clark HR off of Rockies starter Aaron Cook before it happens, proving his psychic powers to the whole room.  You can stick a fork in Cook — much to the chagrin of his fantasy owner Jeff, who is seriously regretting keeping Cook right about now.  His team ERA is up to  5.23, even after Derek Lowe’s gem yesterday.  This is why you have to love Opening Day!

4:10 PM — The team who owns Lannan just called him a “Warrior” after back-to-back homers by Jorge Cantu and Jeremy Hermida.  That’s definitely going to be the buzzword in our league this year.  The Aaron Cook owner, my friend Jeff, immediately offers Cook for Lannan, only somewhat in jest.  Hey — it could be a trade that works out badly for both teams!

Pictured here -- not Aaron Cook

Pictured here -- not Aaron Cook

Meanwhile, in poker game #2, Amazing Grace wins a pot with a straight on the board after going all-in and never even looking at his hand at any point in the hand.  That’s something you won’t see on the WPT, I’ll tell you.

4:35 PM — I’m eliminated in the 2nd poker game when Jeff catches a flush on the river.  Ouch.  I pay him back when he asks,  “How did [my keeper] Cameron Maybin reach base?”, by answering “Accidentally”.

4:44 PM — The card action gets crazy as Jeff goes all-in and beats Amazing Grace with three straight fours (last on the flop, the turn, and the river) to snag four-of-a-kind.  Grace has the stunned look on his face that Brandon Webb owners must have on their face right now — it hasn’t been a pretty day to own some high-priced pitchers.

Speaking of which, it’s C.C. Sabathia laboring a little bit in Baltimore and getting outpitched by Jeremy Guithrie.  That can’t be what Yankee fans were hoping for, I’m sure.   Of course, it’s a long season, and I wouldn’t be making room for that Cy Young Award quite yet if I were Guithrie.

We flip it back to the Florida-Washington game to see a replay of the Emilo Bonifacio inside-the-park-home run.  There isn’t a more exciting play in the game, and Bonifacio is a burner on the basepaths.  If he can manage to get on base for the Marlins this year, he’ll be fun to watch.

4:57 PM — The poker game degenrates into a “all-in without looking at my hand” contest.  Somewhere, Phil Hellmuth would be proud.

Poker strategy on display not endorsed by this guy

Poker strategy on display not endorsed by this guy

Back over in Baltimore, Sabathis is now down 4-1, with the Orioles threatening to knock him out of the game.  There’s a guy by the name of “Albaladejo” warming up in the Yankee pen.  You spend $300 million dollars or so on your payroll, and you can’t get anyone better than that to pitch out of the pen?  Someone buy that guy a consonant, for crying out loud! (Though as a Mariano Rivera owner myself, I wonder how many leads the shaky back of the Yankee pen will actually be able to get to him this year).

A-Rod’s replacement, Cody Ransom makes an error a third that the hometown scorer rules a base hit.  Sabathia owners everywhere immediately throw things at their computer in disgust.  It’s about to get real ugly for C.C’s pitching line.

5:21 PM — The offensive line of the day so far — Bonafacio with the 4-4, HR, 4 runs, 2 RBI, and 3 SB.  The best news in my main league — he’s on the bench of the team that owns him!  This will probably be the high point of Bonafacio’s season, and this poor guy gets nothing and likes it.

5:53 PM — The Yankees begin to rally, thanks to Chris Ray and his gas can.  Have I mentioned yet today how much I hate the Yankees?

Over in St. Louis, the new young closer for the Cardinals, Jason Motte, immediately finds himself in trouble and gets shelled, giving up 4 runs in the 9th, including a base-loaded double by the dangerous Jack Wilson.  Motte is approaching “Warrior” status with this outing.  Jeff comments that Motte might be headed for “minor-league” status if he has many more outings like this one.  Chris Perez and Ryan Franklin owners shouldn’t give up hope yet.

The crowd in St. Louis is deathly quiet.  Until the inning ends and they serenade Motte with a chorus of boos.

6:12 PM — We finally get underway with the late games, including Vin Scully working the Dodgers-Padres contest.  Listening to Scully is one of the joys of having the Extra Innings Package — hearing him any number of times during the season makes the purchase price well worth it.  He could announce paint drying and find a way to make it interesting.

As I type, Jake Peavy is trying to work his way into the “Aces struggling on Opening Day” club, as a two-run single by James Loney puts the Dodgers up in the first inning.

In Baltimore, the crowd is unmercifully booing Mark Teixiera, who sold out for the money went with the tradition of the Yankees and spurned the interest from the Orioles, his hometown team.  Tex is up with 2 guys on and the game on the line — maybe he can pull a page out of A-Rod’s book and make a big out with the game on the line.  And if on cue, Teixiera grounds out weakly to second to end the inning with the Yankees still trailing.

6:36 PM — Someone on another website posts a picture of Jason Motte, and I’m glad I wasn’t drinking anything when I saw it.

motte

No offense to the youngster, but does that look like an intimidating closer to you?  Or does it look like someone who’s had one too many to drink during a frat party?  I own Motte in one of the many leagues I’m in, and  if I’d seen this picture before, I might never have put him on that roster.

7:42 PM — I’m about at the end of my rope, much like Tigers starter Justin Verlander, after outfielder Adam Lind — of Toronto and my fantasy team — crushes a three-run homer to deep center field off of him.  I liked Lind a lot coming into the season, and I hope this is a sign of big things to come for the young left-handed power-hitter.

My guests have gone home for the day, and I’m going to have to juggle dinner, the NCAA Championship Game, and the remaining baseball on the schedule, so I think it’s time to end this Opening Day Marathon.  Here’s to hoping your fantasy teams all get off to good starts (unless you’re in a league with me, of course).  I’ll be back tomorrow at some point with something — maybe even a long overdue Ro-Sham-Bo selection.

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