Opening Night Live
Finally. Just like
when “Frank TV” was canceled (he was so overexposed last year, I actually
started to dislike the people he impersonated by proxy), our long national
nightmare is over and after an off-season that could’ve only been celebrated by
high-priced Manhattan realtors, baseball is back.
We’ve enjoyed all the winter fantasy baseball chatter, but
we couldn’t be happier that spring is here.
Theoretical discussions centered upon hypothetical results can only go
on so long before you want to see things proved (and disproved) on the field.
With Hamels on the shelf, I was thrilled to discover
my old friend Brett Myers would be throwing the first meaningful pitch of the
2009. I would say he single-handedly
murdered my team last year, but that would be unfair to Aaron Harang, who
caused me to utter enough swear words last year, my living room could have been
mistaken for the set of a Tarantino flick.
But did I learn my lesson? Of course not. I doggedly pursued both Myers and Harang to
join my staff in the Fantasy Baseball Search Expert League and either they come
through this year or they will become an even bigger fixture in my nightmares
than the new Chester Cheetah (seriously dude, that thing is creepy. How did that pitch go? “I like our cartoon pitchman for our chemically-processed
cheese sticks, but it would be better if he was 30% more sociopathic. Can we take the old one and add a dusting of Hannibal
With Myers taking the ball on Opening Night, I couldn’t help
but keep a running review of his performance.
If you saw the game, you can probably predict what follows below is not
for the faint of heart.
Pre-Game – Those
of us living in the Mid-Atlantic experienced near perfect weather on Sunday, so
it’s no surprise that Philly fans apparently spent the entire day
tailgating. This ends well.
1st Inning – The season officially starts at 8:10 pm, when Myers misses high. Sixty seconds later, Myers has already retired two batters. He’s working incredibly fast, pitching like he needs to get to the bathroom quickly. After Chipper gets a two out single, McCann hits a ball so hard, I half expect it to land in my lap. Just like that, my WHIP and ERA are quickly wrecked for the week. Is it possible to be mathematically eliminated four minutes into the season?
After getting out of the inning, they show Myers remove his cap in the dugout, revealing slicked back, 1920’s gangster-style hair. After seeing him hang that change-up to McCann, I think his nickname would have been “The Big Lollipop.”
2nd Inning – Thinking I wouldn’t miss anything, I run into the kitchen to grab some lo mein (the clear crown winner for “most microwavable leftover Chinese food”). I only miss one pitch and it’s 3-0. Looks like this is gonna be a short journal.
Myers is still working really quickly. At one point, I swear he nodded to accept a sign in the middle of his wind-up. It’s a pretty cool trick, I hope he tries a no-look pass next.
After Kotchman gets punched out, Jordan Schafer digs in for his first big league at-bat, which ends the only way it could really. 4-0. Myers looks like he could use a hug. So could I, my team is finished.
3rd Inning – While Myers has looked dreadful, Lowe looks nearly unhittable and is keeping Myers from getting any run support. Howard started his season off with a strikeout, putting him on pace for 550 this season.
As Myers comes back out, the announcers continue their on-going psycho-analysis of his mental well-being. At this rate, I fully expect Myers to conduct his post-game interview lying down on a couch. Myers hangs another change-up and Escobar comes up a few feet short of making it four bombs for the Bravos. You may have officially over drafted a pitcher when there is bullpen activity a half hour into his first start.
With Escobar on second, Myers is working out of the stretch and has slowed down his delivery. He gets it together long enough to retire the side with no further damage, including fanning Chipper, which is enough to get me to come back from the ledge.
4th Inning – I have a new favorite commercial, as a great spot for a women’s fast pitch softball aid called the “K Factor” aired between innings. Fast pitch is cool and if done right, it’s impossible to hit. But while this looks like a product that could help teenage girls develop their fast balls, the spot featured frequent cut-ins to a middle-age women training by herself in the woods. Either the charmingly low-budget production values of the ad caused them to cast a local actress in the spot or there are serious compounds where solitary softball warriors are being bred to dominate 40 and over leagues across these great United States.
And by the way, if Myers has another bad inning, he can probably expect to receive the “K Factor” in the mail from a disgruntled Phillies fan. You got to love fans that begin booing their team within minutes of raising their World Championship banner. Myers manages to calm the crowd down by moving through the fourth without incident.
5th Inning – Another inning, another near home run as Chipper bounces one off the track in deep center and into the stands for the Braves fifth extra base hit in five innings. Myers manages to strand him though by striking out McCann on an absolutely filthy breaking ball. Its pitches like that that make Myers so maddening to own. He clearly has great stuff and his K/9 rate is going to be excellent as a result. But he makes at least 3 mistakes every game, and playing in that band box, he’ll hardly ever get away with them.
6th Inning – We get back to Citizens Bank Park just in time to catch the highlight of the night – a comedy routine that must have been in the works for the entire off-season. The Phillie Phanatic is engaged in an argument with an umpire, who then strips off his uniform to reveal a Phillies’ cheerleader outfit and dances the Macarena. The camera pans away before he can do the Roger Rabbit. Good stuff.
Myers is due up 2nd in the bottom-half of the inning, so this will almost certainly be it for him. A 1-2-3 would clearly be too much to ask and Myers doesn’t disappoint by giving up an infield single and an intentional walk. This brings him up Lowe with two out, who immediately tries to bunt for a base hit. He should have pointed to the stands in left field first. After a legitimate duel, Lowe goes down looking. A few minutes later, Greg Dobbs pinch hits for Myers, ending his night.
Myers final line – 6 IPs, 4 ER, 8 H, 6 K’s, 1 BB, 1.50 WHIP, 6.00 ERA. Not exactly the start you’re looking for to kick off the fantasy season, but at least we learned a few things. We learned Myers will remain an excellent source of strikeouts, as he did manage to fan six guys without giving up a non-intentional walk. We learned that he’ll always be volatile to own and watch as long as he makes bad mistakes that lead to home runs, which is the same thing that got him in trouble at the start of last season. And learned that there might be a sleeper cell of fast-pitch softballers training in desolate forests throughout the Midwest.
Despite my frustration, I’m just glad baseball is back. Hope everyone had fun watching the game last night and it whet your appetite for the glory that is Opening Day. Enjoy it everyone and here’s wishing that all of your fantasy teams do well this year, as long as it’s not as well as mine.