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With Davidson almost being a cinderella and Boston and Oakland having a pair of games on everyone else, I thought I might talk a bit about opening day and bring up some high points from Monday. The real opening day, not to take anything away from the Red Sox and Athletics.
For openers, I was quite impressed with Washington's new ball park. I thought that RFK was not best suited for that team. While the result was not the one I hoped for, I actually felt good about that team, who in their last few years of being the Montreal Expos, had to play several series in San Juan, making them feel like nomads and red-haired stepchildren. That is a fate I would not wish on my worst enemy.
While Sunday's game in Washington was most impressive, with the opening of Nationals Stadium in DC, there's also some sadness.
Yankee Stadium, a cathedral of baseball, the site of several huge prize fights, including Sugar Ray Robinson's only loss by knockout and two papal visits, as well as the now-famous Army-Notre Dame 0-0 tie in football, is shutting its doors when the 2008 season ends. At least it will not go the way of the wrecking ball or be imploded for all to see on television. Its neighbor in Flushing, Shea Stadium, which was the site of the Amazing Mets, Buckner's error in 1986, the American debut of four young men from England (we now know them as the Beatles), OJ rush for 2,000, a brash young qb from Pennsylvania named Namath and a NL Championship fight between Pete Rose and Bud Harrelson, is also closing its doors when the season ends. If my memory serves right, it was also the staging area for the morgue when 9/11 hit. It will be replaced by Chase Field and the old ball park, which was the home for the Mets after they left the Polo Grounds, will become a parking lot.
Other high points:
1. Kerry Wood in an unusual role, in relief. This was only the second time I saw him come out of the bullpen, the last was in the 2007 season when the Cubs were in Houston. We got introduced to Cubs outfield Kosuke Fukudome, who almost gave the residents of Waveland and Sheffield a victory yesterday. The Cubs also honored one of their own when Ernie Banks got his own statue outside the ballpark. This might the player the Cubs need to break the curse and not only go to the World Series but win it.
2. Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy picked up where he left off, beating his hunting buddy Roy Oswalt and getting a pair of RBIs in the deal.
3. Johan Santana was everything the Mets said he was and more with eight strikeouts in seven innings of work for a New York team that needed to replace Tom Glavine.
4. No Barry Bonds. Kind of strange, you think? He's out there in baseball limbo.
5. Other new faces include Joe Torre moving to the left coast and beating the Dodgers' most hated rival, without the aformentioned Bonds at home. Also, Joe Girardi as skipper of the Pinstrippers and the Yankees trying to dodge raindrops before their meeting with the Toronto Blue Jays was called.
6. Lastly, Los Angeles Angels outfield Torii Hunter getting a warm reception from the Minnesota Twins fans. Hunter had left the land of 10,000 lakes for the left coast and if you remember him for nothing else, then remember him for the catch he made in the All-Star Game in Milwaukee, where he pulled what would have been a Bonds homer over the wall. He is, to me, one of the best centerfielders to play in this decade. He's about as good as Dodgers centerfielder Andruw Jones.
So with that in mind, we started the season with eveyone 0-0, everyone thinking that this is their year. There is hope. Unfortunately, there can only be eight teams in post season. We also started this season with the cloud of steriods over our heads. Let's hope that cloud blows over for everyone's sake, not just the players but the fans who are wondering if their heroes did the deed.
Here's to hope.