So with the college hoops season winding down, I couldn't wait for baseball to start again, not only because the Mariners look to have some hope this year (though the 3-5 start makes me a bit uneasy) but just to have baseball back. It's really the background noise to my springs and summers for as long as I can remember. So, a few notes/observations from the first week of play (plus a little).
- Living in DC, it was nice to see the new Nationals stadium get the kind of opening a stadium deserves. Zimmerman's walk-off was pretty awesome, and I don't have anything but a passing interest in the Nats (they serve more as a "Oh, I want to go see some baseball and they're here" thing than a team I really follow)
- The Tigers, as everyone has said, look awful. I thought coming into the year that their rotation was weak (why so much for D-Train? He's overrated! He wasn't even cutting it in the NL, how do they think he can transition to the better bats of the AL?!) but they had a lineup which could make opposing pitchers wet themselves. That said, where are the runs? This has to be a fluke, there is no way that lineup continues to be 37 different kinds of suck like they are now.
- The AL Central in general, come to think of it, is just full of surprises. The Royals and White Sox tied at the top of the standings at 5-2? I certainly didn't see that coming, though the White Sox are a really underrated team this year. They've got some great pop in the lineup (Thome, Konerko, Pierzynski, Swisher), some solid starting pitching, and a vastly improved bullpen from last year's model. I wouldn't be surprised to see them still in contention in late September. (Full disclosure: the White Sox are the only other team, aside from the Mariners, that I tend to root for regularly. Definitely my second favorite team...)
- The Orioles?! Best record in baseball? Weird...
- And part of that best record came at my expense. I got to travel up to Baltimore to see my first ever game in Camden as the Mariners made their one pilgrimage there this year. They lost (they actually got swept in the 4-game series), but the park was really a cool place. I enjoy the open effect behind center and right fields. I sat way up in the nosebleeds in left, and the view was great. One thing of note: most teams tend to show a highlight video before the game so fans can get pumped up. I'm thinking it's not a good sign for the O's that they opted out of that option and instead went with... a video of their videoboard being installed. How meta. And boring...
- Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN is one of the best traditions in sports. I know there are a lot of people out there who don't like Jon Miller and Joe Morgan, but I always enjoy their Sunday night broadcasts. It always seems to be a game worth watching and they always make it better. Bonus points for getting to see the Sox stomp the Tigers.