Saturday, April 7, 2012

Opening Day Magic

Friend of the blog Jonathan Foreman wrote up a nice piece about Opening Day at Camden Yards.  In my absence, Jon represented the blog at the game and passed along a few notes for fellow O's fans.  Enjoy!

At the Orioles opening day game (a true opening day, unlike those tricky home openers the last two seasons) on Friday a friend turned to me and said, “this is surreal.”  I agreed.

Maybe it was Rick Sutcliffe throwing a perfect strike for the opening pitch to Chris Hoiles, or the scoreboard error before the game that had Brian Roberts in the lineup, and J.J. Hardy playing DH, or new PA announcer Ryan Wagner (who for my money did a fantastic job), or the streaker on the field in the top of the forth inning wearing nothing but shorts and a cape, or the marriage proposal third base side in the stands. (Editor's note - I think we all know that streaking involves nudity).

There are a lot of maybes, but there is one definite: opening day is a packed house of Orioles fans.  It is something that reminds my generation of 1996 and 1997, and of the Cal Ripken years in general at Camden Yards.  We celebrate the twentieth year anniversary of Camden Yards this year, and opening day is the one moment that it feels like the first few years, not the last fourteen.

With that said here are some positive notes from the game:

  • Anyone who did not see the game will look at Jake Arrieta’s stat line, but his performance was even more impressive than his stats.  There were a few questionable calls on balls that should have been strikes that lead to his early walks.  He was throwing consistently in the mid-90s, and most of his pitches looked crisp.  What surprised me though was how good he looked defensively (including snagging a plastic bag that was floating past him and putting it in his back pocket).

  • The ball was flying off of J.J. Hardy’s bat today, but Nick Markakis looked like the best hitter on either team today.  He looks much stronger than last season, where in the first game he looked malnourished.  A homerun, triple, and walk is a good way to start the season for a guy who needs to recapture his power stroke (and just might have). (Editor's note - Markakis added a 2nd HR tonight as well.  This is good).

  • There are a lot of Chris Davis bashers out there, and he has to prove that he can hit major league pitching.  However, there is little question about his glove.  Davis made a diving catch while keeping the tip of his toe on the bag on a Mark Reynolds throw that would have been Reynold’s first error of the year, but instead was an out at first.   Also, an overzealous Adam Jones threw a cannon to first to try to catch a tagging up runner and Davis leapt in the air to make the catch on a ball that likely would have advanced the Twin’s runners (and hit Buck Showalter in the face). (Editor's Note - Not to be denied, Reynolds got that error back tonight by misplaying a ground ball).

  • The ballpark upgrades make Camden Yards look even better than it did twenty years ago.  Rather than spell all of them out, comment below on which upgrades you feel are the most welcome this year.

    - Jon Foreman

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