A lot happened yesterday on Opening Day. Giancarlo Stanton hit two home runs. White Sox 3rd baseman Matt Davidson hit THREE home runs. Clayton Kershaw stumbled and Carlos Martinez rumbled around his dugout after a poor start.
One game, of course, means nothing in a sport where you play 162 games to determine who gets to the playoffs. But…it is still kind of fun to make some snap judgments. Here are a few:
-Is Clayton Kershaw becoming mortal? Many people noticed that Clayton Kershaw, in the argument for the greatest pitcher of all time, has lost a little speed on his fastball. He was in the 90-91 MPH range, down from his normal 92-93 MPH. Not a huge deal, but when you are a movement and change of speed pitcher including of course that curveball, a couple miles per hour do matter. Kershaw is smart enough to make changes that he needs to, but he is also stubborn and likely slow to admit that he does need to make changes. It is worth watching and of course, he still only allowed one run that ended up being the difference in the game.
-The Orioles may not suck. Every year people write the Orioles off as dreadful, and every year they fight under manager Buck Showalter. Also, let’s not forget about Adam Jones who belted a walk-off after the Orioles blew a lead in the 9th inning and couldn’t get the win with the bases loaded in the 10th.
-The White Sox could be the AL Central of the future. No, this isn’t based on Matt Davidson becoming the next Mike Schmidt, but he will be good. Shortstop Tim Anderson is a rising star who is getting better, and Joan Moncada has been on a top prospect list for years it seems like. Of course, pitching help is coming as well with Michael Kopech – I’m expecting sooner than later
-Shohei Ohtani is a rookie folks. He came here with so much hype, you might forget yesterday was his first Major League Baseball game and he has not played in the minors. Also, he is only 23 years old. He got his first hit out of the way quickly which matters. Now we wait to see until he pitches.
Games continue again today, with the Nationals Max Scherzer pitching against the Reds as the great story of the 2018 season continues. Predictions are fun but hard to narrow down when you have over 25 people on 30 different teams all interacting together. They aren’t robots. You can’t program facts like Nick Markakis hitting his first ever walk off home run, and that after only hitting 8 home runs total last season. You can’t know that Ty Blach is going to outpitch Clayton Kershaw (again) after the Giants find out they will be starting the season without two starting pitchers including their ace and their closer.
The stories are what makes baseball the greatest sport in the world. Amid free agent collusion rumors, potential labor unrest down the road, controversy over pace of play actions, and other things that can detract from it: baseball prevails.