Several years ago, some friends and I discussed what were some of the greatest days in the sports calendar.
There were a lot of options, many were based on personal preference (as many things are in sports).
New Year’s Day, the first Sunday of the NFL season, the Sunday before Memorial Day (for auto racing), NFL conference championship Sunday, the first day of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
Topping the list for me was Opening Day. And it wasn’t just for all the baseball. It used to fall on the same Monday as the championship game of the NCAA basketball tournament.
You’d have baseball all day long, and One Shining Moment in the evening. An awesome sports day.
But then Opening Day was pushed back to later in the week, in an effort to start the postseason. OK, fine. Opening Day just of baseball is totally fine with us.
But then, as we’ve seen in other sports, TV has gutted some of the great day in sports.
New Year’s Day is not New Year’s Day anymore, with many of the prime college football bowls games now spread out over the week after New Year’s Day.
The first Sunday of the NFL season is thinned out by the Thursday night opener and the two Monday night games in Week 1.
And now it’s taken it’s toll of Opening Day.
The Mariners and A’s played two games last week in Japan, while most of America was sleeping. I’m sure there are many fans even in Seattle and Oakland who have to be reminded that their teams have already played two regular-season games.
Then there was the Wednesday night opener, which is fine. But then there are only seven games on “Opening Day.” Most teams play either Thursday OR Friday.
I don’t get it. The beauty of baseball is that it’s played every day from April to September. Baseball needs to celebrate that, instead of having an Opening Day schedule that looks like the slate for a get-away day in June.
So if MoreSplashHits were running things, we’d do two things.
Everyone plays on Opening Day, except for the two teams that play on Opening Night.
If you win the World Series, you open the next season AT HOME. MLB will say that the schedule is set long before the World Series champion is decided. But we say you could easily juggle the schedule to make this work.
Take a look at Wednesday’s opener. ESPN has the World Series champion Cardinals playing at the Marlins to showcase the Fish’s new stadium.
Was it the first game of an opening series between the Cards and Marlins? No.
The Marlins played Wednesday night at home, then play an afternoon game on Thursday IN CINCINNATI!?!? The Cardinals have Thursday off, then travel to Milwaukee on Friday.
The next time the Marlins and Cardinals play each other in Miami? June 25.
Last season the Giants asked if their season opener in Los Angeles could be moved to San Francisco. The Dodgers say no.
But if you make it an MLB policy that the World Series champion opens at home, the opponent would have no choice.
Champions earned the right to celebrate at home.
It was the top of the ninth and Pat Burrell was dug in against the Dodgers’ Jonathan Broxton.
Broxton deals, and Burrell rips a laser to left that sails over the fence for a solo home run.
In my living room, I just shake my head and throw up my hands in disgust.
My wife looks at me puzzled.
“That was a Giant who hit that home run, right? So why are you upset?”
I tried to explain it was because the Giants had just allowed the Dodgers to score a second run a half inning before. But she didn’t understand, and I was in no mood to explain it her.
But I’ll explain it now.
When Santiago Casilla entered the game in the bottom of the eighth and the Giants trailing 1-0, I said “OK, guys let’s keep it a one-run game because that chump Broxton is in the bullpen and we can get a run off that Bozo.”
OK, I actually didn’t say anything because there was no one in the room at the time and that would be weird. But I thought it, loudly.
Then Casilla walked Kemp, allowed him to steal second and then score on a double to James Loney. Casilla was able to get out of the inning with no further damage, even though it took him a gazillion pitches to do the job. But in the end, that one run was enough. The Dodgers beat the Giants 2-1 on opening day.
Tim Lincecum took the loss, but I’m pinning this one on Casilla.
Actually, there was plenty of blame to go around.
The Dodgers scored their first run in the sixth without the benefit of a hit.
Lincecum walked Kemp, but then got Loney to roll a grounder to short. Even though the ball was not sharply enough for a double play, Miguel Tejada hastily tried to turn one. His errant throw shot past Freddy Sanchez into right field, putting runners on the corners.
After Lincecum hit Juan Uribe with a pitch (I had some mixed feelings there about that), Buster Posey tried to catch Kemp napping off of third base. But his throw was behind Kemp, allowing him to score.
The errors were not a byproduct of a lack of range or ability, but a result of the Giants trying to do too much. Those errors were as much mental errors as physical ones.
And then the offense struggled to mount much of a threat against the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw.
Ah well. A 2-1 loss. It’s not like Giants fans are not used to that.
A friend of mine once said the problem with baseball is that the season is too long and there are too many games. So many games, that a single result is not all that important.
But I feel that’s what makes baseball great.
A win can put a smile on your face for 24 hours. But even after a loss, you know that tomorrow can bring renewed hope.
So we’ll go with that, and try not to lament the fact that the Giants’ aspirations of becoming the first team in MLB history to go 162-0 have gone up in smoke. Guess, it’s something to aim for next season.
More Splash Hits will blog live as we watch the game via Kruk and Kuip:
Aaron Rowand’s first at-bat as the Giants leadoff batter and ……. he grounds out to short on the first pitch from Roy Oswalt.
Giants go 1-2-3.
Tim Lincecum looks very sharp. Sets down the Astros in order with 2 Ks.
Welcome to the Giants, Aubrey Huff! Sharp single to right to open inning.
Welcome to the Giants, Mark DeRosa! Walks on 3-2 pitch.
Welcome back to the Giants, Bengie Molina! A single only Bengie could hit, off the wall in left. Huff scores.
Welcome to the opening day roster, John Bowker! A single off the left field wall. You should feel ashamed, though, John. Molina went from first to third on the play, but you’re still sitting at first! Bengie Molina!!
Uribe hits sac fly to scores speedy Molina from third.
Lincecum bunts Bowker to second.
Rowand grounds out. But the Giants lead 3-0!
Lincecum gives up two-out single to Feliz. Apparently, he didn’t get memo to throw nothing but off-speed stuff to Feliz. Got out of the inning on a nice catch in right by John Bowker
Renteria walks, Sandoval singles. But rally quashed by a double-play ball from Huff.
Lincecum goes 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning.
Giants only manage a single by Uribe in the fourth.
Astros only get an off-the-wall single by Carlos Lee.
Aaron Rowand’s debut as a lead-off hitter, not so impressive. Two groundouts and a K.
Renteria gets first hit of year, but is erase on a DP from Kung Fu Panda
Lincecum sets down Astros again in order, even though he gave up a loud out to Feliz that had to be tracked down by Rowand in center. On a fastball when he was ahead in the count. Again, slop to Feliz, out of strike zone.
Did you get the trivia answer? The question was: Can you name the five pitchers to be the Giants opening day starter from 2000-2010?
More Splash Hits has a guess
Oswalt starting to settle in now, although he’s getting some help from the ump and his Eric Gregg-like strike zone. Molina reached out to dunk a single to right, but Bowker fanned an 3-2 pitch to end inning.
Cory Sullivan bats for Oswalt, knocking the Houston ace out of the game. Lincecum gets in a bit of trouble with back-to-back singles by Bourn and Matsui. But he got Pence to ground out and Lee to pop out.
Edgar Renteria is having a very nice opening day. Uribe had a leadoff single and was bunted over to 2nd by Lincecum. After advancing to third on Rowand’s dribbler to short, Renteria drove him home with a double to left-center.
Hey, someone must have gotten to Lincecum. He got ahead of Feliz with a first-pitch fastball, then through him nothing but junk, striking him out on a 2-2 splitter in the dirt. Another 1-2-3.
Mark DeRosa becomes the first Giant of the year to deep yard! DeRosa smacked a one-out solo shot to right.
Sergio Romo came into the game. Apparently, he had been watching Lincecum set down the Astros 1-2-3 so often that he must have thought all he had to do was face three batters in the eighth. However, Serg, when one guy reaches base, you have to face four batters. Romo bounced off the mound and headed toward the dugout after striking out Michael Bourn for the second out of the inning. He did eventully get three outs.
Hey, did I miss the trivia answer? My guess was Russ Ortiz, Livan Hernandez, Jason Schmidt, Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum. If I did miss it, now I’ll have to do some research.
Giants went quietly in the ninth, with Rowand finishing the day 0 for 5, three weak grounders to short and a pair of whiffs.
Brandon Medders’ spirng struggles carry over to the regular season. He gave up a leadoff infield single to Carlos Lee when Renteria made a nice play in the hole, but Ishikawa (now in the game for Huff) could dig out his throw. Geoff Blum followed a with double to right on a hanging breaking pitch. Pedro Feliz’s groundout to short plated Lee. J.R. Towles spanked a double to left center to score Blum. Bochy went to get Brian Wilson into the game. And it’s a save opp for Wilson. Manzella strikes out. Jason Michaels hits for the pitcher. Michaels grounds out. The Giants WIN!!!!!!
All-around good game for the Giants. They scored more than three runs, got another Lincecum-like performance from Lincecum, Brian Wilson seals the day and the Giants win on the road!
Magic number to finish ahead of the Dodgers: 162