‘Twas the Night Before Opening Day…
Hey all. It’s been a while since my last post, and I apologize for that. Life sort of got in the way for a while, and to be honest it was hard to find things to write about. Obviously, now’s a different story.
People like Jeff Passan at Yahoo! have been complaining about the organization of Opening Day this season. I personally disagree–while it is certainly odd to have only six games on the first day of the season, it provided me with a sort of calm before the storm. Today I was able to absorb and enjoy some baseball games without the anxiety and nervousness that accompanies following one’s favorite team. I watched most of all three of today’s nationally televised games, and it really helped ease me into baseball season. For tonight’s primetime Giants-Dodgers game, I managed to get Vin Scully’s radio call from my iPhone synced up to ESPN’s video, which was incredible. When you listen to that man call a baseball game, you literally feel like you are living history.
For the great majority of baseball fans, however, tomorrow is where it begins. Your Chicago White Sox, led once again by Mark Buehrle, will take on Fausto Carmona’s Cleveland Indians at 2:05 PM. While Progressive Field was covered in snow this morning (leading to a snowball fight between Matt Thornton, Sergio Santos, and Chris Sale), Cleveland’s groundskeeping crew has done a seemingly miraculous job in restoring it to playable shape. Making no pretenses to originality, here’s a few keys to tomorrow’s game, the opening series, and the season as a whole.
1. Mark Buehrle
Yes, it seem absolutely ridiculous for a Sox fan to worry about one of baseball’s most consistent starters over the past decade. But Buehrle struggled last season, and it will be interesting to see how his contract status affects his performance, considering that he’s recently backed off on the retirement talk. The Sox will especially be counting on him early in the season, in the absence of Jake Peavy.
2. Brent Morel’s offense
The almost ceremonial race for the third base job this spring was covered with some interest by the media, especially since it was characterized as a battle between a young guy with a glove and an established big league hitter in Mark Teahen. It seems as if many fans have already written off the offensive prospects of Brent Morel, but I think it’s fair to say that we shouldn’t assume that he’ll be some sort of black hole in the lineup. Morel owns a .818 career OPS in the minor leagues and has never been a prototypical “good glove, no hit” guy. It’s true that the rest of the Sox lineup looks more than sufficient to make up for any offensive inadequacies that Morel may provide, but this just means that any value Morel adds with the bat can be banked as a great bonus.
3. Adam Dunn, and fan reaction to his playing style
This has been covered in some depth in other outlets. Gut reaction to Adam Dunn may be unfavorable–he’s a big, slightly overweight guy who strikes out a lot. Local sports radio hosts are already dreading the day in the not-so-distant future that irritated South Siders call in to complain about Dunn’s strikeouts. Make no mistake, Dunn is one of the most scarily consistent hitters in baseball. He’s going to have a couple of adjustments to make, though–the switch between leagues and to the DH role. Just don’t worry about him early on. You’ll forget his strikeouts when you see the walks and the home runs, I promise. Just think of him as a poor man’s version of Jim Thome in this prime.
In other news, Phil Humber will not be the fifth starter for the Sox out of the gates. He’ll be used as a long reliever until necessary, which appears to be April 9th and 20th.
Aaand that’s about all for now. Go Sox!