Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Opener

After the Red Sox' first 101 Opening Days, their record in the first game was 50 wins, 50 losses, and 1 tie. We'd gone 1-5 since then, but we took a step back toward the .500 mark with a win this morning in Japan. Here are our opening day records by decade. (Am I supposed to be capitalizing "opening day?" Eh, I'll just do it when I feel like it.)

1900s: 4-5
10s: 5-4-1
20s: 3-7
30s: 5-5
40s: 6-4
50s: 5-5
60s: 5-5
70s: 6-4
80s: 2-8 (including Boyd's start in '85--the "Can Opener"!)
90s: 8-2
2000s: 3-6

Despite our extreme even-Steven-ness of the '30s through the '70s, we did lose six in a row from '58-'63, and win five straight from '67-'71. We're 14-19 in my lifetime. Total: 52-55-1. The last time we played an opening game in front of less than 20,000 fans was 1967, when eight thousand showed up at Fenway. Days later, we played in Yankee Stadium's opening day, to an equally weak crowd of 14,000. (Billy Rohr's one-hitter.)

Okay, back to this year. It's so key that we got this win. We clinch not having that horrible feeling of having gone all the way over there only to come home empty-handed (on top of the injuries/jet lag/long-term issues that will always happen on a trip like this.)

I still can't believe Jacoby wasn't hitting leadoff before Drew was scratched. But after? That's when you move Youk down to sixth and put Ellsbury at the top. Instead, Tito puts Moss in and moved Jacoby down even farther. I really felt like this was gonna cost us the game, being down one run in the ninth. Fortunately, Moss himself got the key dong to tie it up. (Didn't he also hit a two-out, game-tying homer in a spring training game a few weeks ago?) Anyway, for Tito to suggest that there would be any kind of pressure or risk to batting Ellsbury leadoff is preposterous. Kim and I, this morning, were trying to come up with the real reason. We came up with something to the effect of "the mafia is pissed about Indian casinos taking their potential wagered money so they're strong-arming Tito into keeping the Native American down." And I'd be okay with starting Coco now and then. But if you're gonna go Jacoby, bat him first.

Dice looked great...after he looked shitty. As long as he's showing signs, I think he'll be gold. Remember, he'd still be a week away from opening day in a normal season.

Incredibly, last night we discovered our alarm clock broke. Fortunately, Kim remembered that the backup (my alarm clock that I got in middle school) was sitting nearby. I grabbed the old standby and we were all set. I woke up and flipped on the TV to hear that song--"be kind to our web-footed friends...." or whatever it really is--playing very quietly on the field. No announcers or anything. Totally bizarre.

I caught the game in five different ways. TV first, then on the shower radio, then in the car radio, then on the MLB Gamecast at work, then on the TV in the break room. We heard the Moss dong just as we arrived at work. Then I sweated out Okajima's ninth on Gamecast. Then I willed Manny to hit a double, and he did, to give us the lead. Then it was down to the break room to watch the bottom of the tenth on TV. The cleaning crew were all down there. This dude Nelson got pissed when Emil "Retentive Baseball Player" Brown made the huge baserunning mistake. He's a Sox fan, but he likes "good baseball." The rest of us were just psyched the guy messed up. Two hits later, the A's should have had it won. Instead, Pap finally gets the third out, and we win. Thank you Emil Brown. I've known one other Emil. This Connecticut scenester who called himself Emil Nomel. (Read it backwards.) But he pronounced it "AY-muhl," which is how I pronounce Brown's name, to make the above nickname make sense. Wow, 11:00, I've got to get to bed--6 AM game again tomorrow.


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Location: Rhode Island, United States