New ballpark, shutout pitching and more this opening weekend

Baseball for real is finally back and the failures or success stories of spring training are a thing of the past for the fans anyway. I made it through the confusion of three opening days this season and managed to not miss the Marlins first regular season game.  I spent most of the week hunting through various schedules to find out when baseball was actually going to begin for real.

The “opening” in Japan seemed nothing short of silly and I almost missed the Wednesday Marlins game.  After much research I discovered late that afternoon that this game actually counted.  The following day (Thursday) seemed to be the actual opening day.  Is the average baseball fan such as myself supposed to be this confused?  Things used to be a lot simpler when opening day began April 1 or 2 and in Cincinnati.  But I won’t go into my well documented opinions on Bud Selig.  Suffice it to say that the Marlins opener featured the usual confusing nonsense from the commissioner during two innings which saw all three announcers fawn and ogle over his sound bite observations on the state of baseball.

The new Miami ballpark is quite impressive. Except for that gawdy and downright ugly thing past the left centre field wall.  Apparently it lights up and dolphins dance and God knows what else when a Marlins player hits a home run.  I was grateful that none did that night.  This was also only a one game series and then Miami traveled to Cincinnati. Doesn’t make any sense to me either. This team is trying to build up fan interest.  Increased fan interest has to be built and sustained over a period of time. One game and hit the road doesn’t seem to be the way to do it. We shall see if the baseball fans of Miami come out to see this greatly improved team in a beautiful new ballpark.

Opening day in Pittsburgh simply wasn’t fair.  I realize that Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee have to face somebody in their first start but a team which is going nowhere again this season shouldn’t have to begin the season with the very real possibility of beginning 0-2. Halladay was his usual unhittable self on Thursday and as many teams have found out over the career of Halladay, no fun day in the batter’s box.  Pittsburgh was lucky to get the two hits they did. Oddly enough, Halladay didn’t pitch a complete game. He only pitched eight innings of two hit shutout baseball.  Pittsburgh had to be satisfied with that for the day.  They won game two however.  That’s why they play the game on the field.

The St. Louis Cardinals don’t seem to be missing Albert Pujols all that much.  At least in the early going of the 2012 baseball season. That’s because 2011 playoff and World Series hero David Freese continues to carry the team.  Freese in previous seasons was held back only because of injuries. Certainly the Cardinals need Carlos Beltran to stay healthy and Lance Berkman to repeat his surprising season of last year and need Chris Carpenter to return and Adam Wainwright to come back. But thus far, they seem like a very solid and balanced team.

Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg showed no ill effects from his rotator cuff surgery and the Chicago Cubs blew another game.

Jon Lester and Justin Verlander locked up for a great pitching duel which saw the debut of Prince Fielder and Boston manager Bobby Valentine.

Clayton Kershaw left the Los Angeles Dodger opener after only four innings, apparently with the flu and Tim Lincecum gave up three runs, including two long home runs in his first start.

Oh yeah, one more thing.  Toronto and Cleveland loved opening day so much that they went a record 16 innings to finish it.  Then they went 12 innings the next day.  The batboys might have to pitch game three or four at this rate.

The first couple of games are under our belt. Life makes sense again.

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