Opening Day 2021: marred by covid-19, again
All thirty Major League Baseball teams were scheduled to play today, but only 26 of them will actually do so. The Orioles and Red Sox were rained out in Boston, and the Mets - Nationals game in Washington was postponed due to the #@!&% coronavirus. Last night it was announced that one Nationals player had tested positive and four other players and a staff member would be quarantined. Today MLB decided to postpone the game "out of an abundance of caution," and later we learned that two other Nats tested positive. It's just like last July when the Nats' star Juan Soto tested positive on the same day baseball got underway, forcing him to miss over a week of play. Obviously, we are not out of the woods yet, sports fans. Why in blazes have not all the players been vaccinated yet???
There were plenty of surprises and dramatic twists of fate in the ten games that were played during the day. (Three others games are still being played on the Pacific Coast.) Among the bigger surprises: the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Chicago Cubs, the Toronto Blue Jays beat the New York Yankees, and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves.
I was paying close attention late this afternoon to the Los Angeles Dodgers - Colorado Rockies game, a tense back-and-forth affair which L.A. ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw ended up losing. Colorado second baseman Chris Owings led the way with a triple and two singles, with one RBI. Final score: COL 8, LAD 5.
A few hundred miles east of Denver, the Kansas City Royals gave up five runs in the top of the first to the Texas Rangers, then tied it in the bottom of the inning, then fell behind three runs, and pulled ahead to win it, 14-10. The star of the game was none other than former Washington National Michael A. Taylor, who hit two RBI singles (one in the first inning) and one solo home run. Now, why couldn't he hit like that when he was in Washington? (Actually, he was very good some times.) Anyway, I'm happy he got off to a great start in his new "home on the range."
Lindor, Mets ink deal
The roster for the visiting team in today's scheduled game in Washington was in a bit of doubt until just before midnight, when news broke that Francisco Lindor had signed a contract extension with the New York Mets for ten more years and $310 million. He was acquired in a trade with the Cleveland Indians earlier this year, but evidently this was the final year of the previous contract and he was insisting on a career-long deal before the season got under way. Lindor will be 38 years old when the contract ends -- the longest contract in Mets' history. It was probably the biggest player acquisition in the 2020-2021 MLB offseason, and it's another sign that under the new ownership of Steve Cohen, the Mets have big ambitions.
COVID-19 testing in MLB parks
Since mass vaccinations began in the middle of February, a number of Major League baseball stadiums have been used to distribute the life-saving antibody doses to folks in big cities. They include the following stadiums, and probably a few others:
- Fenway Park, Boston
- Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
- Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York
- Citi Field, Queens, New York
- Petco Park, San Diego
- Oakland Coliseum
Marlins Park*, Miami
- PNC Park, Pittsburgh
- Coors Field, Denver
- Minute Maid Park, Houston
- Globe Life Field, Arlington, Texas
Marlins Park? "loanDepot park"!
Believe it or not, this is not an April Fools joke. Nine years after it was built, the home of the Miami Marlins is now officially called "loanDepot park," with the irregular lower-case letters thusly rendered. Terms of the naming rights contract were not immediately available. The Marlins Park, Stadium chronology (annual), and Stadium names chronology pages have all been updated accordingly. Thanks to Mike Zurawski for bringing that to my attention! (I've got other news to catch up on, not surprisingly.)
Demolition in San Diego
QualComm / Jack Murphy Stadium, home of the San Diego Padres from 1969 through 2003, has now been completely demolished. The process began in December, and was essentially finished on March 22. All that's left now is to clean up the rubble and begin building a new (smaller) stadium for the San Diego State University Aztecs football team. You can watch the video at www.nbcsandiego.com.