It’s here! Opening Day! One of the biggest days of the baseball season. Technically, the Astros don’t kick off the season until tomorrow, April 1st, but that doesn’t mean we can’t crack open a beer and celebrate with the rest of baseball on this perfect spring Thursday! This is a celebratory day for all baseball fans everywhere, regardless of whether your team takes the field today or tomorrow.
While I think the MLB made a huge marketing mistake by not waiting to start the season until after the NCAA basketball tournament was over, at least baseball fans have this day all to themselves. For one day, and probably one of the rare days until October, baseball is king for the day. No NFL lockout stories, no sleazy college football disclosures, no LeBron James propaganda, no Barry Bonds trial, just baseball, pure and simple. Those other stories are still there, of course, but none of them matter. Today, forget about everything else and just enjoy baseball for one day. It’s about people coming to the ballpark and just having fun. Oh, how the people will come, longing for the past, looking for the one constant through all the year’s of America, of all that once was good, and could be again … baseball (thanks, James Earl Jones)!
While this opening weekend may not be the most important series of the season for teams, it is by far the most exciting, because on opening day, every team is a contender. You know it’s a great day for baseball when Royals, Pirates and Nationals fans are equally amped up to get to the ballpark and grab a cold one as Red Sox and Giants fans. For some teams, this may be the only time all year that a kind of palpable buzz, hope or genuine jubilation of any kind, can ripple through the stadium like the wave (hopefully, the Astros aren’t one of these teams).
Even for contenders, though, Opening Day can mean so much. People love to make the argument that, “It’s just one game,” or “It’s just one series, there’s a long season to go,” which is true. However, how many times do we see the season, the pennant or the Wildcard berth come down to one final game? It is a long season, nothing is decided on the first day. But every game counts. As these guys would say, “Here we go!”
- Just “Minute Maid” it … In a tight race that came down to the wire, the Astros finalized their roster on Thursday, rewarding Jason Bourgeois the fifth outfield spot and Matt Downs, and the recently acquired Joe Inglett, the final infield positions. Inglett was acquired from Tampa Bay last week after it was announced the off-season newcomer Clint Barmes would start the season on the DL after suffering a wrist injury. Inglett had more pinch hits than anyone in baseball last year with the Milwaukee Brewers. Also making the final cut were relief pitchers Enerio Del Rosario, who didn’t allow a single run during spring training, and Aneury Rodriguez.
- Your starting shortstop is … Angel Sanchez. Last year’s starting shortstop, Tommy Manzella, was sent to Triple-A, then recalled after the Barmes injury, then sent back down again, leaving Sanchez as this year’s opening day starter. While his tenure at short will no doubt be short lived, Sanchez has proven between last season and this spring that he can hold his own, hitting around .280 and playing solid defense.
- Do I know you? … As noted multiple times on Astros Quick Hits throughout the spring, the ‘stros face a formidable, and familiar, opponent to start the season in the Phillies. GM Ed Wade was the former GM for the Phils, and has made major trades with them since he’s come to Houston. Prominent players that have swapped Houston and Philadelphia jerseys during his reign as GM include: P Roy Oswalt, Phi; P J.A. Happ, Hou; CF Michael Bourn, Hou; P Brad Lidge, Phi; and P Brett Myers, Hou.
- The week to come … Here are the Astros and their opponents projected starters for the first week of the season:
Fri, Apr. 1 @Philadelphia: Myers (0-0) v. Roy Halladay (0-0), *Televised on ESPN
Sat, Apr 2 @Philadelphia: Rodriguez (0-0) v. Cliff Lee (0-0)
Sun, Apr 3 @Philadelphia: Happ (0-0) v. Roy Oswalt (0-0)
Tue, Apr 5 @Cincinnati: Norris (0-0) v. Mike Leake (0-0)
Wed, Apr 6 @ Cincinnati: Figueroa (0-0) v. Eddison Volquez (0-0)
Thu, Apr 7 @ Cincinnati: TBD
I hope everyone is excited as this guy…Don’t worry man, that “any day now” is today.
Enjoy the opening weekend festivities everyone!