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Holy Crap! I Have a Blog!
by Derek Smart
It's funny how sometimes we forget things. We go to work thinking about how we need to pick up milk on the way home, only to find ourselves faced with dry cereal come morning. We know that taxes should be done by the same day every year, but it slips many of our minds until we're stuck in a post office line at midnight. Some of us even consider ourselves baseball bloggers despite weeks and weeks of neglect......but that's another story.
Thankfully, memory loss, or the fading of such that comes with time, can be a healing process as well. Otherwise, how else could one be as excited as I was for today's resumption of hostilities in Major League Baseball? By all rights, any fan of the Cubs should still be, despite any glow achieved from this offseason's dealings, feeling the pain from last year's flesh-eating-virus of a season. Yet, here I am - here we all are - raring to go from day one, blessed by the calendar's turns with the ability to move forward and enjoy the moment.
And so, in honor of the day, I fire a few salvos of celebration. The first, I dearly hope, of many.
It's Opening Day, they're introducing the Reds at their home park, there are all kinds of reasons to be happy and cut a guy some slack, yet despite all this, when Eric Milton's name comes up there's more than a smattering of boos. Now, you'll get no argument from me if you want to talk about how terrible Milton's contract was at the time he signed it, and how it still looks bad even taking the current market into account, but I was still under the impression that you had to, like, shave satanic symbols into puppy bellies to get booed during Opening Day intros at your own stadium. But apparently, significant levels of suck are cause enough.
No Cub hitters looked good today, but Man-Crush-Matt looked worse than anybody. I mention this only because it's days like today, more than the Happy-Happy-Joy-Joy, 9 run wins that will tell us what kind of manager we really have in Uncle Lou. Perhaps it's unfair of me, but my perception of the previous regime is that putting MCM in the two-hole and getting today's performance from him would have not only banished him to the bottom third, but might have cost him his job.
I love that Lou put Murton in the second spot to begin with, and that says a lot, but it'll be how Lou reacts, particularly if MCM continues to struggle for a few games in a row, that will give us our most valuable intelligence.
Big Z had what is becoming his typical Opening Day outing, giving up a couple of dingers, failing to go beyond the fifth, all while being completely unable to put the ball in the Zipcode of Intent. That said, it speaks to the dominance of his stuff that, on a day when he threw with all the precision of Jose Feliciano's Traveling Shotgun Show, had it not been for two pitches to Adam Dunn that couldn't have been meatier if the balls were fashioned of tightly packed ground round, he would have made it through four innings unscathed.
I was feeling pretty good after the top of the fifth. Sure, the Cubs were down 3-1, but not only had they finally gotten a run across the plate, they'd finished the frame having forced Reds' starter Aaron Harang to throw 96 pitches for his first 15 outs. That's a massive departure from the type of work we've seen in recent years, and I was excited that all this talk in the spring about seeing more pitches might actually translate into the occasional pound-of-flesh exacted from the opposition.
My joy was short-lived, though, as the top of the sixth saw, not only an extra two tallies for Cincy, but a sadly inadequate effort with the bats, resulting in three men sitting on only six pitches seen. It was an especially frustrating turn of events, since an extra inning against a Red bullpen that can only be described as shaky in the most charitable of circumstances, would have made a huge difference - perhaps not in the outcome, but certainly in the chances for a different outcome.
I don't talk much about doing the "little things," but if I did, I wouldn't blather on about things like hitting behind a runner at first. I'd be rambling about taking five extra pitches against a tough starter in the now, for the opportunity to see an extra inning of a less fearsome pitcher later.
It was a lackluster effort after several months of slaver-mouthed anticipation, but it was only one of 162, and while today was bad, the worst will be tomorrow's emptiness, as what we thought was the resolution of seemingly endless waiting simply morphs into yet another stint in hibernation.