If you watch those Opening Day montages on television, they always show Wrigley Field or Fenway Park covered in snow. A fan in Detroit or Minneapolis bundled up, or the streets of Manhattan with people freezing their parkas off. It was a bad winter in the Northeast, no doubt about it, but on March 31 in Grass Valley, California at 6pm, it was snowing.
Now people in Chicago or Pittsburgh would laugh about the snow I'm talking about, but both the Giants and A's were within an hour of beginning their 2014 campaigns, and the white stuff was coming down pretty good. Schools may be closed in the outlying areas tomorrow, and I'm probably going to have to be there by 5 in the morning to tell people about it, so I'll keep this short. It's great to have baseball back, and even though Brian Wilson coughed up three runs last night that cost the Dodgers a 3-0 start, baseball is still the best. Some random observations and thoughts as baseball begins...
Instant replay: Everyone seems to be in love with the idea. Fans, players, coaches, umpires, and techies who built the 'Command Center' in New York City all say this is going to improve the game. I still envision some college kid in the MLB Fan Cave making the decision on whether the ball is fair or foul, or the runner is safe or out, but there are going to be some crazy situations. I thought of this scenario wathing the A's game earlier: A ball is smoked down the right field line foul. In the game it was foul, and was called foul, so everything was fine. But what if the ball was called foul, but was actually fair? No one was running. Where would you put the baserunners? Does the batter get a double? We'll see. They'll be some other crazy stuff, too, but we're likely not going to get to see any managers kicking dirt when they get tossed out.
Steroid stars: Baseball players just voted to stiffen the penalties for performance enhancing drugs, but yet don't seem to have a problem with having druggies for teammates. Ryan Braun got a nice ovation from the Miller Park crowd in Milwaukee when he officially returned from his suspension today, and the Brewers players have had nothing but nice things to say about him. Hypocrites. Not only is Braun a cheater, but he's also a liar. Some in the crowd were even standing when the cheater/liar came to the plate for the first time. Nelson Cruz homered today, Barry Bonds seems to be back in the Giants' good graces and was a guest hitting coach this spring, and Mark McGwire continues to be the hitting coach of the Dodgers and even got his old uniform number 25 from Carl Crawford. No one seems to care.
Rollin' with the homies: I was trying to watch the Dodgers-Angels preseason game Thursday night on my tablet when Vin Scully was calmly describing an earthquake that they could feel in the Dodger Stadium press box. You could also see the camera shaking. Remembering the 1989 Loma Prieta quake in San Francisco, I clicked to google as fast as I could to see if there was any damage. Remember, when that quake struck Candlestick Park, fans and reporters had no idea what had happened outside. The google version of Siri told me it was a 5.3 centered near LaHabra. I felt better.
Add quake: This has nothing to do with baseball, but apparently there have been several aftershocks in the Los Angeles area, prompting CNN to ponder if the big one is coming. Instead of calling it the Big One, they are referring to it as, and I kid you not, “The Quake from Hell”. Literally, I suppose.
Milestones and anniversaries: There are some good ones coming up. ESPN is self-promoting (and who could blame them) their 25th season of televising Major League Baseball. April 23 is the 100th anniversary of the opening of Wrigley Field. A week from tomorrow (April 8) is the 40th anniversary of Henry Aaron's 715th home run (on Opening Day against the Dodgers' Al Downing in Atlanta). Over the weekend, baseball returned to Montreal for two exhibition games between Toronto and the New York Mets. Friday night, they paid tribute to long time Expo (and Met) Gary Carter, and Saturday they honored the 1994 Montreal Expos—the best team in that franchise's history. 1994 was 20 years ago, which also means it's been that long since the strike that ended that season, and canceled the World Series.