April 08, 2004

Opening Dayz

The start of the baseball season is a little strange this year as there were multiple starting points, depending on your point of view.

  1. Opening Day = The day when the first game is played. March 30th.

    The Yankees play the first game of the season versus the Devil Rays at the Tokyo Dome in Japan, five days before any other teams take the field. The question is, if they play an American League baseball game and no Americans saw it, was the game played? I mean, it started at 2am in the morning in New York, which gives the folks something to do after last-call, but not something the kids are going to enjoy. The ESPN announcers didn't even bother to leave the comforts of Bristol, preferring to call the game via video feed. Maybe they had a few before last-call, too.

    At least the Japanese folks got what they wanted to see. We overpaid for Hideki Matsui last year as he struggled to find his power while adjusting to Major League pitching. It must've been the ballparks that was the problem, as he promptly blasted a home run when he came home to the Tokyo Dome. We got our fantasy money's worth, though, as Jorge Posada blasted two three-run homers to get us out the gate fast in the RBI race. Even Julio Lugo chipped in an RBI double.

  2. Opening Day = The day when the first game is played in the U. S. of A. April 4th.

    Well, it's not really Opening Day per se, as the one game didn't start until 8pm Eastern time, and is 43-degree weather with 20-degree wind chill really baseball weather? Apparently not for Pedro, as the most expensive roto pitcher in the league got knocked around the revamped Orioles' O as he struggled to break 90mph on the radar gun. Manny was his usual self as the foundation of many a fantasy team, with two solid hits and an RBI. David Ortiz didn't look great in his at-bats, though. We knew even when we kept him that he might regress a bit from his career year last year, but he did draw a walk, and patience is always good, especially in our league which counts on-base percentage rather than batting average.

  3. Opening Day = The day when your team plays its first game. April 5th.

    The Giants were opening in Houston, where they are hugely optimistic after upgrading their rotation in the offseason. It was Roy Oswalt starting on Opening Day, though, and he seemed like a fine choice as he mowed down the Giants early with dominating stuff. Meanwhile, with Jason Schmidt on the shelf (good thing we didn't keep him?), the Giants had to send out Kirk Rueter as their #1 guy. A soft-tossing lefty in the Juice Box didn't sound like a good idea, and Kirk was teetering on the brink all through the first couple of innings, leaving the bases loaded both times. He settled down, though, and gave the team six decent innings. They were behind, but they were still close. Then Alou decided to use a Brewers' reject as his first option out of the pen, who promptly gave up two more runs. Up by three runs in the 8th, Oswalt was beginning to struggle, giving up two singles sandwiched by a strikeout. Now Barry Bonds is up as the tying run, and Jimy Williams comes out of the dugout to chat with Oswalt. Barry's already working on a perfect day, going opposite field for two doubles plus the obligatory walk. Jimy leaves Oswalt on the hill, presumably after warning him to be extra careful. Oswalt tries to throw a fastball away off the plate. Apparently it wasn't away enough. Barry decided to heck with opposite field, and ripped off a screaming line drive straight into the first row for a game-tying home run, single-handedly dragging the Giants back into a game they had no business being in. The rest of the game was almost academic. The Astro's newly anointed closer came in to pitch the 9th in a tie game (the right strategy, IMHO), and gave up the winning run with a hit-batter, who advanced to 2nd on the sacrifice bunt, went to 3rd on a wild pitch, and scored on the sac-fly. Our luck with fill-in Giants closers continued as Matt Herges got the big save by going through the top of the Astro's order.

    The A's game was almost as exciting, as Kenny Rogers and the Rangers stuck right with Hudson and the A's the whole game. We faced the classic fantasy dilemma, as Mark Teixeira smashed a go-ahead, two-run homer to dead-center on a cold night at Oakland Coliseum. So our guy did good, but our team is losing. The good old Texas bullpen came through for us, though, when Eric Byrnes, who admittedly is no Barry Bonds (even if he along with Barry carried our fantasy offense for the first half of last year), also came up with a huge, pinch-hit, two-run double to win the game for the Athletics.

And in the end, after all the Opening Days, our real teams were at the top of the standings, and our fantasy team was also at the top of the league. All downhill from here, I guess.

Posted by mikewang on 04:17 PM