The Grinch Who Stole Opening Day…

…or the voice of sanity through the wilderness to calm your frazzled nerves.

I suppose it depends on your point-of-view; whether things went well or poorly for your the clubs to whom you pledge allegiance on opening day.

Here are my words of wisdom for all: IT’S OPENING DAY!!!

As clear cut as that may be, I still have to explain to a certain segment of the panicky and celebratory exactly why there’s no reason to treat this as armageddon one way or the other.

Because IT’S OPENING DAY!!!

Except for the Dodgers and Giants, all of today’s games have been completed, but fans of those clubs should take heed as well.

Let’s take a look.

Yankees 6-Tigers 3

The following is true: I was driving at around 5:15 PM, had Mike Francesa on the radio and had to change the station because his obnoxious nitpicking against the Mets 2011 ad campaign was so intentionally grating that I switched to Sean….Hannity.

I didn’t hear Francesa say the inevitable:

“Dis is da blueprint. Dey got what dey needed outta CC; dey handed da ball ta Jober; he got tru da sevent; Soriano came in, did his job; den made way fuh Mariano. Big homuh fuh Granduhson; Tesheruh got off to a good start finally and dey were awf an’ runnin’.”

Here’s reality: the Yankees problems aren’t going to crop up when CC Sabathia‘s pitching—their problems will crop up after Sabathia pitches.

Rafael Soriano will be fine most of the time; let’s see how he does in Boston.

And Alex Rodriguez had no business doing his little look at the dugout act as he thought the double he hit was a homer. He had to hustle to get to second on a play in which he should’ve been on third in what was a tie game and failed to score.

Inexcusable.

I doubt he’ll do it again…until he does it again.

Braves 2-Nationals 0:

There were questions regarding Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez‘s bullpen maneuverings on Twitter. I didn’t see the game, but in looking at the play-by-play recap, why didn’t he leave Jonny Venters in to pitch the ninth inning? Or why didn’t he have Craig Kimbrel pitch the eighth and Venters the ninth?

I thought they were using both as the closer based on the situation; instead, Venters pitched the eighth against three righty bats and got them all easily (he’s good against both righties and lefties); and Kimbrel pitched the ninth, also retiring the Nationals in order.

But strategically, it made no sense. He brought Venters in to pitch to three righties; Kimbrel to pitch to two lefties.

What happened to using both? Already he’s going with Kimbrel as the designated ninth inning man regardless of game circumstances? The Braves had the opportunity to run their bullpen correctly and Gonzalez is showing that he’d prefer to be safe and have the “roles” for his relievers.

Padres 5-Cardinals 3

So Cameron Maybin hits a game-tying homer off the Cardinals mediocre closer Ryan Franklin and he’s on his way to fulfilling his potential?

It’s so easily forgotten that Maybin homered off Roger Clemens in his second big league game at age 20 when he was one of baseball’s top prospects.

It’s 2011 and he still looks like a young colt who hasn’t the faintest idea as to what he’s doing from one moment to the next at the plate, in the field or on the bases.

And if anything exemplified Maybin’s career it was that he had to leave the game with a leg injury in the 11th inning when the Padres took the lead and won the game.

Reds 7-Brewers 6:

It is not a good thing when a player like Carlos Gomez—who desperately needs to alter his approach to become more selective—steps up to the plate in his first at bat of the season, swings and misses at the first pitch, then hits a 400 foot home run on the second pitch.

It was a good result with a terrible approach and it, in Gomez’s mind, is going to validate what it is he’s been doing for his whole career. Somehow Logan Ondrusek managed to walk him in the ninth inning. That aside, the homer will end up doing more harm than good especially since the Brewers ended up losing the game.

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My podcast appearance with SportsFanBuzz previewing the season is posted. You can listen here The SportsFan Buzz: March 30, 2011 or on iTunes.

I was on with Mike at NYBaseballDigest and his preview as well. You can listen here.

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I’ll be hosting a forum every day starting tomorrow (it was supposed to start today) on TheCopia.com. I’ll give the details on Twitter and Facebook. Click on the links at the top of the page for my Twitter/Facebook accounts.

****

Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide is available.

I published a full excerpt of my book here.

It’s available now. Click here to get it in paperback or E-Book on I-Universe or on Amazon or BN. It’s also available via E-book on Borders.com.

Now it’s also out on Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook.


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  1. #1 by fjrabon on April 1, 2011 - 2:19 am

    Paul, Fredi’s post game quotes indicate it was even worse than that. Basically he just said he didn’t want to be “Johnny Manager” which apparently just meant that he was managing by gut instead of playing the L/R statistics. From what Fredi said, it seems as if he’s going to go with the hot hand as the closer, and ignore the current game situation. Which is absurd for closers, because really the hot hand has more to do with small sample sizes than who is actually pitching better.

    With Fredi, you knew you were going to get a guy who runs a good clubhouse but makes questionable tactical decisions. His tactical decisions have already cost Jason Heyward one at bat. It led to his already bizarre usage of his relievers (which “worked” but that’s besides the point).

    I will give Fredi credit that he took Lowe out at the appropriate time, whereas Bobby would have undoubtedly left Lowe in a couple of batters too long.

  2. #2 by fjrabon on April 1, 2011 - 2:27 am

    also, the Dodgers have only one lefty and he’s their designated 8th inning guy who can’t throw more than two days in a row?!

  3. #3 by Jeff on April 1, 2011 - 7:14 pm

    What did you think of Bobby V and Orel last night on ESPN? I might go as far as to say that THAT broadcast was one of the most entertaining and informative broadcasts I’ve ever heard. Getting inside Bobby’s head every week is DEFINITELY something I’m going to look forward to.

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