Play Ball!
April 1, 2013

I'll admit Ferris Bueller may have had a better day off than I did, but mine was pretty good. After all, Opening Day of the baseball season should be a holiday, and I decided to make it one. I used my first KNCO vacation day to mostly sit on the couch. I felt a little guilty about it at first, but Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers made me forget about that in a hurry.

With twelve straight hours of baseball, not including a one-hour pregame show, it was baseball heaven. The opening act was pretty goodóRed Sox-Yankees for about seven innings until the Giants-Dodgers game came on. The Yankees lost, and the new Red Sox phenom Jackie Bradley looked good, even though he didn't get a hit. At the same time, the Mets hit a grand slam, and Bryce Harper homered twice for Washington. Not a bad way to wait for a Dodger game.

Even though it was just the second game of the quadrupleheader, it was the main event. Giants at Dodgers. The World Champs vs. the heavy spenders. Matt Cain against Clayton Kershaw. The sellout crowd expected a pitcher's duel and they got one. It was 0-0 going to the bottom of the eighth inning. Cain was gone by that time, but Kershaw batted for himself, and hit his first ever home run! It was no cheapy either, clearing the center field wall. The Dodgers would add three more in that inning, Kershaw would pitch a scoreless ninth, and the Dodgers won 4-0.

As if that wasn't enough, after the Dodger win, there was Philadelphia-Atlanta and the debut of the Upton brothers, and then the A's against Seattle and Felix Hernandez. The A's lost 2-0, but still a very entertaining ball game. If this were boxing, those contests would have come before the main event, but they were still worth sticking around. I know it's only the first of 162, but I'm excited about the Dodgers chances. This should be a good year.

Kershaw, by the way, is the first pitcher since Joe Magrane in 1988 to homer on Opening Day, the first Dodger to do it since Don Drysdale in 1965, and is the first pitcher in 60 years (Bob Lemon-1953) to pitch a shutout and homer in a season opener. All I did was sit and watch, but still not a bad way to spend a day off.

Baseball Bits: With Commissioner Bud Selig extorting the owners of the Houston Astros, and forcing them to move to the American League, there will now be at least one interleague series going on all the time (because there are now an odd number of teams in each league). The Angels opened in Cincinnati this afternoon, and Kansas City will be at Philadelphia over the weekend. Next week has the White Sox at Washington, followed by the Mets at Minnesota (they can't all be winners). The Dodgers play their first interleague series April 21-23 at Baltimore, and the Giants are in Toronto May 14 and 15. The Oakland A's don't see the National League until Memorial Day, when they go over the Bay Bridge to play the Giants.

On the Gold Sox front, Anthony Bass didn't make the Padres' starting rotation but was the first reliever in today's game. He pitched three innings, allowing a run and three hits with no walks and three strikeouts...Marquis Fleming didn't make the Tampa Bay Rays opening roster. He'll be in the minors when their seasons begin on Thursday...The Oakland A's new bullpen coach is Darren Bush, who was a player-coach for the pro Gold Sox in 2002. Bush hit .417 (10-for-24) and even had a stolen base with Yuba-Sutter that year.

It's probably because of the Final Four, but Fox will not be televising a baseball game Saturday. They have a NASCAR race all day, and on occasions where that has happened in the past, the network will broadcast a game at night (late afternoon on the west coast). Fox mysteriously took two weeks off from Saturday baseball last year, which happened to coincide with NBC's telecasts of the Olympics.

Speaking of Fox and Baseball, long time broadcaster Tim McCarver has announced that this year will be his last as the network's top analyst. McCarver has worked 28 straight postseasons and 23 World Series. He was also a major league catcher for 21 years. McCarver can be a little annoying, is Captain Obvious at times, and I think I've heard all of his stories, but those stories are usually pretty good. I think I'll actually miss him, and it won't seem like the postseason without him.

You Giants fans out there would have loved this. Flagship station KNBR aired all four of last year's World Series broadcasts over the weekend. I think all four were run consecutively yesterday. It was scoreless in the middle innings of Game Two when I went to the market to get lunch.

Hoop Highlights: UCLA's exhaustive search for a new basketball coach lasted less than a week, and you knew it was going to a guy that you had heard of. The school hired New Mexico coach Steve Alford on Saturday. Apparently VCU's Shaka Smart and Butler's Brad Stevens didn't want the job, and the pressure of recruiting in southern California. We remember Alford when he played at Indiana, and I remember a female intern at a Sacramento radio station hitting on him when he was in the NBA. He was able to shake that off and go on to coach at Southwest Missouri State and Iowa before landing at New Mexico. Alford had recently signed a ten-year contract extension with the Lobos, but was somehow able to get out of it to come to Westwood.

The new darling of young college coaches is Andy Enfield of Florida-Gulf Coast, who guided the unknown Eagles to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16. Enfield has been rumored to be the next head coach at USC, and ESPN is reporting tonight that is a done deal. Nothing against Enfield, but becoming the darlings of the NCAA ball is a good thing for coaches, too.

Also just in, ESPN reporting that former Sacramento Kings and New Mexico State coach Reggie Theus is the new head coach at Cal State Northridge. It would be cool to see that school develop into a decent mid-major program.

My brackets are a total disaster even though two of my Final Four teams still remain. I correctly selected Louisville and Michigan, but I had them both losing on Saturday (to Gonzaga and Miami respectively) so I'm done. I had 35 winners (currently out of 60, but will end up 35 out of 63), which is not going to be anywhere near the winning number in our radio station pool.

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