April 11, 2006
Just like their very first home opener one year ago, it was a spectacular sunny, mild day in Our Nation's Capital, just perfect for baseball. Yet all the pregame hype and hoopla, martial music, and the honor of Vice President Cheney throwing out the first pitch could not conceal the uneasy feeling that the Nationals are not yet able to compete on equal terms with the rest of the major league teams. Today was the last chance Bud Selig had to follow through on his commitment to finalize the sale as soon as the stadium league deal was nailed down. It's been over a month (March 7) since the D.C. Council voted the final approval. What's the holdup, Bud?
The game itself had few memorable moments. Alfonso Soriano hit his third home run of the year, but the Nats only got two other hits, and no runs. Ramon Ortiz struggled to live up to the expectations due a starting pitcher, and giving up four runs was about as good as you could expect of him. The relief squad did not meet the high standards they set for themselves last year. The Nats's record is now 2-6. I have to credit Frank Robinson and pitcher Felix Rodrigeuz for making the point in last Thursday's game at Shea Stadium that Pedro's bean balls will not be tolerated. The suspension they got is the price that had to be paid for the team's honor; see MLB.com.
It so happened that today was the home opener for both the Red Sox (at newly expanded Fenway Park) and the Yankees. The Red Sox have the winningest record at this point, 6-1. The Yankees piled on some huge run totals in their series against Oakland, but are below .500 nonetheless. I recall hearing something about Milwaukee's high ambitions during the off-season, and I guess I should have paid closer attention. The Brewers and Tigers both went undefeated for their first five games, and then lost the next two. The Mets, Indians, and Reds have been playing exceptionally well, too. It's good to see some fresh faces at the top of the standings, early in the season anyway.
Sheer silliness department: The Miami Dolphins have renamed their home "Dolphin Stadium," without the "s." See sports.espn.go.com (via Mike Zurawski).