April 3, 2006
Actually, last night was Opening Day for the White Sox and Indians, but the rest of major league teams (except the Twins and Blue Jays) begin their regular seasons today. The first game today is the Nationals against the Mets at Shea Stadium. The Nationals have the same starting pitcher as they did for their inaugural game in Philadelphia last year, the rock-steady Livan Hernandez, but half of the rest of their starting lineup consists of newbies, two of whom were acquired in the off-season. Ryan Zimmerman will be under heavy pressure to live up to the high expectations, but he seems well composed for a guy who is only 21. It reminds me of Mickey Mantle's awkward debut with the Yankees in 1951, trying to fill Joe DiMaggio's big shoes. Zimmerman and Alfonso Soriano got hits in the fourth inning, helping to tie the game 1-1. Not a bad start to the season!
UPDATE: The Nationals had runners in scoring position three times in the latter innings, but fell short of the Mets, 3-2. On the plus side, they had more hits (12) than the Mets (10). Oddly, though, the Mets had one more left on base (10) than the Nats. Just remember, the Nationals lost their first game last year, and then came back to win the series against the Phillies.
In Today's Washington Post, Thomas Boswell explains the delay in the sale of the Washington Nationals: The publication of the book Game of Shadows forced Commisioner Selig to devote all of his (limited?) attention to grappling with the steroid scandal. He is hopeful that Washington will have its own owner in time for the home opener at RFK Stadium on April 11, but makes it clear that "Any failure at this point would be unconscionable." Even though the finalization of the stadium lease means there is no longer any real chance that the Nationals will be relocated, I'm leaving the likelihood as five percent until the franchise is actually sold.
Those marketing guys at MLB are making a play for us ballpark aficionados, with a set of "retro stadium ringer" T-shirts. I must say, however, the selection of some of them seems rather odd to me. Who in their right mind would ever consider the Astrodome or Shea Stadium "retro" ballparks? In terms of franchise history, Montreal's Jarry Park might be more appropriate [for the Washington Nationals] than Griffith Stadium, but I'm not complaining. What about Shibe Park, Crosley Field, or Tiger Stadium??? See MLB.com.
Just in time for the Phillies first game (at home), I have modified the diagram on the Citizens Bank Park page, moving the left field fence back slightly. The change made during the off season is too minor to merit a separate diagram version. For some reactions to this change, see the Philadelphia Inquirer. (link via Mike Zurawski)