I don’t care what happened yesterday in Tampa or ‘Zona or St. Louis…today is Opening Day. And despite the five games scheduled before 4:10 and three games scheduled to start at the same time as the Reds-Phillies showdown at 4:10, baseball does not truly start until (…what’s-his-name…hang on, let me look it up…) Scott Feldman (…that’s it…) throws the first pitch in Cincinnati. That’s the way it used to be, at least.
For years, the first pitch of the regular season was always thrown by a Cincinnati pitcher in Cincinnati. Because Cincinnati was the home of the first all-openly-professional baseball club, the Queen City was given the honor of officially starting the baseball season. That changed sometime in the 1980s I think, and I blame Bud Selig 1000000% for the change. Look at all the other traditions he messed up while he was in baseball. The All-Star Game determining home field advantage for the World Series, instant replay, time clocks, turning a blind eye to Jose Canseco‘s exploits, expansion, more expansion, moving Milwaukee to the National League, moving Houston to the American League, collusion, designated hitters, outlawing the spitball…you name it, Bud Selig had his dirty hands all over it. There is no doubt in my mind that he was instrumental in destroying the tradition of starting the season in Cincinnati.
I won’t be attending the game today (not sure when my first trip to the park will be), but if it’s not raining I plan to listen to it on the radio (and long for the days of Marty and Joe Nuxhall telling me all the action on the field). I love Opening Day because I love baseball, despite Bud Selig’s efforts to change my mind. Opening Day puts everyone on equal footing. The World Championship of 2016 means nothing today. Today is all about striving toward the Series in 2017.
That said, I do not expect the Reds to do well this season. Their pitching is an absolute mess. But the offense, if it can stay healthy, promises to bring excitement to Great American Ballpark. Joey Votto looks to continue his second-half performance from last year when he was unstoppable. Jose Peraza will get a chance to shine every day at second base. Zack Cozart is back, and hopefully he will be able to pick up where he left off in 2015 when he was playing like an All-Star before his injury. Eugenio Suarez was a pleasant surprise last year, as was All-Star Adam Duvall. Scott Schebler is a question mark, as is Billy Hamilton‘s on-base percentage. Hamilton is amazing to watch once he gets to first base, but that first 90 feet is such a struggle for him. Devin Mesoraco will take up his position behind home plate in a couple of weeks, but Tucker Barnhart is a serviceable part-time fill-in.
If these guys can score 15-20 runs per game, the team has a shot.
If not, at least we still have more mascots than almost everyone else in the big leagues.
Returning to the family of mascots this year is an updated Mr. Red! Mr. Red was retired in 2007, but has been redesigned and will come out of retirement in 2012, and he looks so much better than he did 5 years ago. He joins Gapper, Mr. Redlegs, and Rosie Red as official team mascots.
I’ve said this a million times…if they don’t do a live, on-the-field race (like the Nationals’ mascots), then I will be extremely disappointed. The scoreboard race just isn’t that entertaining.