“You look forward to it like a birthday party when you’re a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen.”
~Joe DiMaggio on Opening Day
It’s probably fitting to lead off with that quote from a Yankee great as the 2011 Detroit Tigers prepare to open the 2011 baseball season in New York. This afternoon at 1 PM (after his pre-game rituals are complete), Tiger ace Justin Verlander will take the mound at Yankee Stadium, starting for the 4th Opening Day in a row. Tiger skipper Jim Leyland reports he is as unworried about his status in the last year of his contract as he is in the lineup: “People make a big deal about a lineup. It doesn’t mean anything,” Leyland said. “It’s a simple thing. It’s not complicated at all. I mean, we’ve got the big boys in the middle. We’ve got some speed up top. We have a little power at the bottom. That’s what it is. There’s no magic formula for a lineup.”
The projected lineup for today shows that they had a solid off-season. The biggest addition is 4 time All Star and career .300 hitter Victor Martinez, who is expected to bat 5th and ensure that Miguel Cabrera gets pitched to. The Tigers are expected to contend this year, but a lot will depend on the strength of their pitching, particularly the starting rotation. The five hurlers are all in their 20s, all former top draft picks, and all able to dominate a game in different fashions if they’re on. The fact that several are throwing the ball in the high 90s never hurts.
On to the blogs…
Samara at Roar of the Tigers says we have a roster, so bring on the season. As only she can, Samara highlights things that have been happening in “terrible” cartoons. She’s unsurprised that Joel Zumaya & Carlos Guillen are once again on DL Island but excited about Will Rhymes getting the job at second base, his calmness in the face of werewolves and his long hair.
The News & Notes for Opening Day in the Detroit Tigers Weblog threw a link to the Freep writers’ predictions for 2011. Mitch Albom pegs them at 2nd on the strength of Victor Martinez but lacking enough in the pitching department to overcome both Chicago and Minnesota. John Lowe & Michael Rosenberg both feel that the additions of Martinez, Joaquin Benoit and Brad Penny will be enough for 1st place and Rosenberg even calls for a Cy Young from Verlander. Predictably, grumpy old Drew Sharp has them in 3rd because of too many ifs, a tough early schedule and because he’s grumpy old Drew Sharp.
Kurt at Bless You Boys wishes you a Happy Opening Day Morning and offers a link to Ernie Harwell on baseball, and it’s great to hear Ernie on Opening Day. He also gives his and readers’ Keys to 2011 including hitting better with runners in scoring position (with runners in scoring position, the team hit just .256 last year) and running more.
What do you think, what are you reading and are you ready to PLAY BALL? Oh yeah, almost forgot Ernie Harwell. You can see him perform Casey at the Bat for a group of kids but his traditional “first pitch” is below.