An ode to Opening Day

Low-A Charleston roster announced
Fan Confidence Poll: April 6th, 2009

Well, beat the drum and hold the phone – the sun came out today!
We’re born again, there’s new grass on the field.

There’s an old saying in baseball. It goes a little something like this: Life begins on Opening Day.

That is a statement 100 percent true. This afternoon at around 4:07 p.m., weather permitting, Jeremy Guthrie will deal the first pitch of the Yankees’ season to Derek Jeter, and that countdown to game 162, to October, to a possible parade begins.

Every year, Opening Day is a special time for me. We spend the winter going over the what if’s. Who’s going to sign where? Who’s going to start? Who’s going to relieve? Who plays center field? Who overpaid? Who underpaid? Who wins the hardware? Who finds himself on the wrong end of a scandal?

It makes for great conversation, but it’s not baseball. For six months now, the Yankees haven’t played a game that counted. They closed out the season last year on Sept. 28, 2008 with a ten-inning loss to the Red Sox. For the first time since I was 11, the Yanks failed to play a game in October, and the team went out with a whimper.

Now we’re perched on the edge of a brand new day. Every one, every team, every pitcher is at 0, and the promise of a new season is fresh in the air. No one is facing an uphill climb to the pennant. No one is facing a firesale, a declining season, a disappointing performance. Everyone is just waiting for it to count again.

For the Yankees and their fans, the start of the season has come to mean expectation. Since Luis Gonzalez’s bloop fell beyond the reach of Derek Jeter on a warm November evening in Arizona seven and a half years ago, the Yanks have had the weight of baseball expectations on them. They’ve spent more money than any team since 2001 and have nothing but one AL pennant to show for it. Every year, they land the Next Big Thing and are picked to win it all. When they fall short, it’s a disappointment.

This year, though, it’s different. The Yanks, all $209 million of them, are underdogs. Sure, they have Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. Sure, they have a multi-billion-dollar ballpark that offers riches for the richest and more money for the Yanks’ coffers. But they’ve been picked by many to finish third in a very competitive division. Before the season starts, the Yanks, used to lofty expectations, are being told not to expect much. That’s okay with me. It’s makes watching the games that more fun this year.

As 4 o’clock rolls around this afternoon, I’ll be wrapping up a class. I’ll head home, flip on the TV, and there will be baseball. There will be the Yanks in their road grays taking on the Orioles. It will be one of 162, and it will be a glorious rebirth of baseball, the game that kills us or elates us on a nightly basis, the game we love. It will be the two finest words in April. It will be Opening Day.

Got a beat-up glove, a homemade bat, and brand-new pair of shoes;
You know I think it’s time to give this game a ride.

Low-A Charleston roster announced
Fan Confidence Poll: April 6th, 2009
  • Tom Zig

    If the Yankees are underdogs…does that mean more people will like them?

    • Benjamin Kabak

      Of course not. They’ll just take more pleasure in knowing that the Yanks are picked to fail.

  • mustang

    ” But they’ve been picked by many to finish third in a very competitive division. ”

    On that alone the Yankees will win a championship. I see very few chinks in the Yankees’ armor, but we will see. It will be that much sweeter when they prove the so called experts wrong.

    • Tom Zig

      I’ve always wondered how in the world Peter Gammons got into the hall of fame……

      • Jamal G.

        Don’t quote me on this, but I’ve read that he’s not officially a HoF member, it’s just that he’s recognized inside the HoF.

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Yes. He’s an “honoree” of the Hall, recognized in an exhibit about journalists in the Hall. But he’s not actually inducted into the Hall nor is he a member.

          However for the sake of accuracy I must point out that Peter Gammons is not enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. According to The 2005 ESPN Basball Encyclopedia (with a foreword by Peter Gammons) page 1690, each winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award “is presented with the award at the annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony (though they are not inducted into the Hall themselves) and is permanently recognized in the ‘Scribe and Mikemen’ exhibit in Cooperstown.”

      • jsbrendog

        whther he is officially in it or not (not apparently by tjsc post below) wheh i was oyunger he was the man. pre internet if you got a scoop it was from peter gammons because he had the direct access of espn and didnt have to wait for it to be published.

        also during this time he was nto such a sox homer i do not believe. so for me in my mind he is now a husk of his formal self and has thrown journalistic integrity to the wind and in his dotage basically just doesnt give a shit.

        but at least he doesnt sit there and say, well i didnt vote for rickey for the hal of fame because “im just nto a rickey guy”

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside


          I crack on Gammons, but just like David Faustino, I do respect him for what he’s good at.

          Neither of them can hit the high inside fastball, though.

  • mustang

    One question both New York teams with new stadiums how does MLB start them both on the road?

    • Benjamin Kabak

      That’s actually a fine thing, and they did so for a few reasons. First, they’re concerned about the weather in New York. Starting the season at home in early April is rather dicey. Second, for stadium not projected to be finished until shortly before Opening Day, MLB likes to give the teams a few extra days to iron out the kinks. Based on how the stadium performed on Saturday, they certainly need it.

      I understand the allure of hosting Opening Day at home in new stadiums, but I think practicality demands otherwise.

      • mustang

        I understand your point, but when you have a big fish like the Yankees opening a new Yankees Stadium that’s the way to start the season with a bang.
        Even better Yankees/Red Sox opening night at the new stadium.

        • andrew

          I was at Randy Johnson’s first start with the yankees against the Sox, I figured it would be a great start to a great year… oh well.

      • Yankeegirl49

        I dont buy the “concerned about the weather” thing. TB is opening in Boston. So while the weather calls for cold and rain, the dump they call Tropicana Field is sitting empty. Makes ZERO sense. If Boston can open at home, and Chicago can get “snowed out” at home, the Yanks and/or the Mets could have opened at home as well IF the weather was the only reason.

        • Benjamin Kabak

          Weather is a reason, not the only reason. No one said it was the only reason. They also have this whole new stadium construction thing going on.

    • mustang

      I know I’m bias, but what would the ratings be for tonight if the game was at the new Yankees stadium?

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Virtually every team in every sport opens on the road the year they start in a new building. Builders want a week or two of fudge time to fix any problems or delays.

      Standard Operating Procedure.

      • Mike Pop

        Every team can do that?

  • Rich

    If they can win a playoff round and get the monkey off their backs that has been there since 2004, I think they’ll roll on to #27.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      Fun fact. Only five players from the 2004 Yankees are still in pinstripes. Considering how emotionally invested we all were in that team and how cocky we were feeling after that game 3 blow-out, that’s a little bit surprising and a little bit unsurprising.

      • Drew

        mo jeter posada alex and I can’t think of the fifth

        • Drew

          ohhh dekster.

        • Benjamin Kabak

          Poor Hideki. He don’t get no respect.

          • Drew

            Imagine if he returns to healthy form. 295/370 with over 20 hr’s and 100 rbi. His bat could be UUUUge in the 5 or six hole.

            • Steve in MN

              Please tell me that’s not a fucillo reference i just read. I thought I escaped that damn word. it haunts me at night…

      • steve (different one)

        i know i that i personally was NOT feeling cocky, even after going up 3-0.

        every single game from 2003-2004 against the Sox was a bare-knuckle drag-out brawl, with both teams seemingly dealing knock out punch after knock out punch, only to see the other team rally and pull it out late. there were sooo many games like that, that i wasn’t going to feel confident until the series was comepletely over.

        obviously there was game 7 in 2003. there was the Jeter/broken face game. there was the A-Rod/Varitek game when Mueller homered off Mariano to win it. the game where Mariano mouthed “catch the ball” to Lofton.

        so many epic wins and heartbreaking defeats.

        both of those teams just had SOOOO much offense, that no lead was ever safe. ever.

        that’s just how i felt.

        after the Sox won game 4, i had the sickest feeling in my stomach.

    • Tom Zig

      I’ve always felt the same. If we can just get past that first round… but hey we finally have the pitching to do it.

  • Drew

    Get out of class out 3:45. I’m sure I’ll slide out of there at about 3:30 which puts me on my couch at about 4:05. Just in time. :)

    • Benjamin Kabak

      I get out at 3:50. By the time I hop on the subway and get home, it’ll be closer to 4:30.

      • Matt K

        Tivo/DVR?? I am skipping my 5:00. I guess law student can’t skip class as easily as undergrads

        • El Generalissimo

          Definitely not as easy, but is definitely done after you first year of law school. For instance , if I had class during the game today I would probably just be sitting there watching gamecast the entire time and not paying attention, therefore I would have decided that it makes no sense to sit and not pay attention and just not go.

          • Steve in MN

            In grad school-all my classes are 4:30 to 7:30, central time. So I can watch a couple innings. They should be up 5 by the time i have to go to class though :)

    • handtius

      I’m currently being affected by the economy, so….I’ll be home all day…Not actually the happiest of opening days, but once the game starts, all my worries will be forgotten.

      • andrew

        that’s why we love baseball

        • handtius

          this is true

  • daneptizl

    Shit on all of dem hos.

  • K.B.D.

    Joba hasn’t managed to make one start the entire damned season. Put him in the bullpen, please?

    • Drew


  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    As 4 o’clock rolls around this afternoon, I’ll be wrapping up a class. I’ll head home, flip on the TV, and there will be baseball. There will be the Yanks in their road grays taking on the Orioles.

    Meanwhile, the Mets will likely be in their Sunday road Black alternate top with non-pinstripe white leggings and two-tone black on blue Cool-Flow batting helmets.

    • handtius

      That just sounds all to confusing and mightily upsetting.

  • A.D.

    Fun stuff for tomorrow:

    Guthrie had a 4.05 ERA against the Yanks last year, but lucky with a .214 BABIP

    CC Career 2.38 ERA against the O’s

    • handtius

      5-0 also

    • Drew

      And his preseason stats(wbc & ST) are absolutely horrifying.

  • Tom Zig

    CC’s stat line:

    7.0 IP, 6Ks, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 Hits.

    • Drew

      1 win.

  • Eric

    I’m currently sitting in my office in Baltimore to pumped up to work because I have tickets to the game. But it is not looking good outside.

  • Matt

    Put me in coach, I’m ready to play.

    John Fogerty, ftw.

  • usty

    The weather looks like it might clear up by 4!! I’m amped…although the drive down from NJ might suck.

  • YankeeScribe

    I’m in Baltimore and it’s looking like today’s game might get rained out

  • Paulie

    Looks like we could still see Yankee baseball today. According to this the weather in Baltimore improves at 3:00 (an hour before the game).…..r/USMD0018

  • GoTerpsGo

    Alright the sun’s back out… I hope the drainage in OP@CY is good… The Evil Empire’s quest for #27 begins today!!!