2013 Opening Day: Contenders Flex Muscles After Pageantry
It does not get much better than Opening Day. The smell of fresh cut grass and leather mitts, the sound of balls off the wood bats, vendors yelling and selling cold beer and hot dogs, and kids running around wearing hats that are too big. Something just seems so right when America’s pastime comes to life. Everyone gets the chills when legendary Dodgers announcer Vin Scully says, “It’s time for Dod-ger baseball.” While one can’t judge a team’s season on one day, one can pick up on little things that may become an avalanche. Here are a few of my observations from Opening Day 2013.
- The Washington Nationals Are The Real Deal
I ranked the Nationals as the best team in the entire league and a few people attacked me. They obviously missed the Miami Marlins/Nationals game on Monday. Yes, it was the Marlins, but that does not mean you should not brush it aside. Stephen Strasburg pitched seven shutout innings and Bryce Harper hit two home runs, which were the only runs they scored. The bullpen proved they have what it takes to keep the team in the game. Rafael Soriano received his first save as a National. The Nationals will be better than they were last year, and teams in both leagues should be scared.
2. The Los Angeles Dodgers Are a Tad Better Than The San Francisco Giants
If you missed the Giants/Dodgers game, you missed an incredible game. Giants pitcher Matt Cain and Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw were on top of their games, but the Giants decided to pull Cain after the sixth. That is when everything fell apart. I said in my power rankings the Giants do not have the proper backup needed in case one of their starters got in trouble. Kershaw led off the eighth and hit a home run, which probably ruffled George Kontos’s feathers because the Dodgers sailed to a 4-0 win. Kershaw pitched a complete game. Unless the Giants can get their bullpen in shape, the Dodgers will win the division.
3. Andrew Breitbart and the Dodgers
While watching the Dodgers play I wished more than ever Andrew was still here. I know he loved the Dodgers and he would be so proud of this team. I know he is watching them from above and celebrated when Kershaw hit the home run.
4. Boston Red Sox Demolish New York Yankees In The Bronx
It is no secret neither of these teams are the favorites in the AL East, but it is always exciting when they play. Plus, the Red Sox are in the midst of a major rebuilding year and people are not expecting much out of them. Today they proved them wrong. They came together when it counted and won. Jackie Bradley, Jr. made his MLB debut and had 3 walks and played excellent defense--like he did when he led South Carolina to two national championships. Steady and cool under the pressure, Bradley may quickly become a fan favorite in Beantown. The team meshed well today and actually could be on road to being a huge force in the league.
5. New York Mets Beat The San Diego Padres 11-2
I was not expecting this at all. I thought the Mets would win, but to dismantle the Padres? No. I am sort of skeptical, but this victory should be noted, even if it is a fluke.
6. The Atlanta Braves In Post-Chipper Jones Era
They beat the Philadelphia Phillies 7-5 without the man who wore #10 for 19 years. Justin Upton hit a home run in his Braves debut while others took apart Cole Hamels. However, there was one man who was only a double away from the cycle: Chase Utley. If the Braves do not figure him out and shut him down, the Phillies will be a problem for them. If it was not for him the Braves would have won it 7-3.
On Tuesday we will see the Baltimore Orioles vs. Tampa Bay Rays and the Cleveland Indians vs. Toronto Blue Jays. Both games will be worth watching because the Rays and Blue Jays are the favorites for the AL East.
All that matters is that baseball is back. Here's to a great 2013. Let's play two!