Commentary

Opening Day notes from around MLB

Originally Published: March 31, 2011
By Jim Caple | Page 2

Some people compare baseball's Opening Day to Christmas Day, and they're correct to do so. Just like Christmas, the relentless hype begins many months before the big day, fans beg their teams to buy them expensive free agents they can't afford, there is a spirit of hope and goodwill (except toward Yankee fans), and invariably many people wake up disappointed the day after and want to return their team for one they really wanted.

Still, Opening Day is indeed a national holiday when everyone feels joyous and optimistic (well, maybe not so much in Pittsburgh). A look at how each team will celebrate its 2011 opener:

Philadelphia: Hours before the season opens, the Phillies announce their postseason roster, which includes pitchers Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels and 21 players on the disabled list.


Washington: After President Obama throws out the ceremonial first pitch at Nationals Park, Speaker of the House John Boehner immediately responds that the pitch lacked velocity, had no movement and was up in the strike zone. The Yankees respond by adding Obama to their starting rotation.


Kansas City: Former All-Star first baseman Mike Sweeney signs a one-day contract with Kansas City so he can officially retire with his old team on Opening Day, but the Royals instead trade him to Milwaukee for more prospects they can eventually lose to free agency.


St. Louis: There isn't a single dry eye at sold-out Busch Stadium when the Cardinals honor Albert Pujols in an emotional pregame ceremony by retiring his jersey while declaring that no one will ever again wear No. 5 after the 2011 season.


New York Yankees: After careful consideration of New York City's strained budget and the Yankees' starting rotation, Mayor Michael Bloomberg decides to schedule the 2011 World Series championship parade for downtown Philadelphia.


Los Angeles: A sellout crowd at Dodger Stadium watches breathlessly as Frank and Jamie McCourt throw out the first depositions and the 16,000th accusations in their divorce case.


Oakland: The Athletics cancel their plan to have an F-14 flyover before the season opener after pitcher Dallas Braden points out that NATO has declared his mound a no-fly zone.


Texas: Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan throws out the first pitch, along with the next 142 pitches, and finishes with a complete-game, 12-strikeout, 5-1 victory.


Cincinnati: Reds reliever Aroldis Chapman arrives late for the opener after state troopers pull him over and ticket him for going 105.4 mph.


New York Mets: In a very frustrating pregame ceremony for owner Fred Wilpon at the Mets' home opener, a district judge repeatedly refuses the owner's request to throw out the first $1 billion lawsuit from Madoff victims.


Chicago Cubs: Upset that reporters are saying the Cubs will eat his contract, Carlos Silva shows up in the clubhouse before the opener to declare, "Those #$&% guys aren't going to eat anything of mine. Give me a fork!"


Seattle: In addition to bringing back former team broadcasters to help fill the void left by Dave Niehaus, the Mariners bring Jamie Moyer, Richie Zisk, Bob Kearney and Diego Segui back to the active roster as part of the team's youth movement.


Florida: The Marlins pay tribute to their final season at Sun Life Stadium by shutting off the scoreboard power, letting the grass go to seed and laying off half the concessions and parking lot employees.


Tampa Bay: David Price beats the Orioles 4-1 in front of an Opening Night record-high crowd of 3,821, but thieves continue to plague the Rays by repeatedly stealing second and third base, the team's signs and Evan Longoria's pants.


Boston: The confident Red Sox mark the 100th season opener at Fenway Park by raising the 2011 American League champions pennant above the Green Monster.


Anaheim: The Angels mark their home opener by inviting fans to run around the basepaths after the game, but only after signing a waiver that they jump on home plate at their own risk.


Cleveland: After receiving a rousing pregame speech from "Major League" and "Major League II" star Charlie Sheen, the Indians lose the opener and provide enough calculatedly bizarre postgame comments to be the top trending topic on Twitter for the week.


San Francisco:Giants starter Tim Lincecum sets an Opening Day record by eating four double-doubles, three orders of fries and two chocolate/strawberry shakes from In-N-Out Burger in a single meal. Unfortunately, the pitcher goes on the disabled list when he explodes after finishing off the meal by eating a wafer-thin mint.


Arizona: There is confusion for the home opener when the Diamondbacks refuse to leave their new spring training facility -- Salt River Fields at Talking Stick -- to play at the significantly inferior Chase Field.


Atlanta: In a stirring pregame ceremony, the Braves honor Bobby Cox for his decades of service by having him take the lineup card to the home plate umpire, who then ejects the cranky former manager when he complains loudly about a call from 2005.


Milwaukee: The Brewers open the season by filing a complaint with the league after Boston general manager Theo Epstein sends Prince Fielder a Red Sox uniform "to see if we got your measurements right."


Baltimore: The Orioles host their biggest crowd for a home opener in seven years, but manager Buck Showalter is irritated that more than 38,000 fans fail to show up on time to watch batting practice, at least 5,000 aren't in their seats for the first pitch, and many walk around wearing their baseball caps backward.


San Diego: To celebrate their home opener against the Giants, the Padres sell Adrian Gonzalez replica jerseys for half price in the team stores.


Detroit: The Tigers invite longtime Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom to throw out the first octopus at the home opener.


Houston: A federal gag order prevents former Astros pitcher Roger Clemens from throwing out the ceremonial first ludicrous claim in his congressional perjury case.


Minnesota: As a brutal Minnesota winter lingers on, the Twins consider moving back into the Metrodome while starter Carl Pavano desperately tries to warm himself by growing a porn beard in addition to his porn 'stache for the home opener.


Chicago White Sox: The Sox are forced to postpone their home opening ceremonies to the next night when starter Mark Buehrle throws a complete-game shutout before the team has finished the pregame introductions or the national anthem.


Toronto: The Blue Jays embark on what they hope will be their first championship season in 18 years by petitioning the league to realign them in the AL Central, NL Central, NL East or, preferably, the International League's North division.


Colorado: In addition to free refrigerator magnet schedules, the Rockies give out four-year contract extensions to all 50,456 fans in attendance.


Pittsburgh: The Pirates open the home season in the traditional manner, by losing and being mathematically eliminated from the pennant race.


Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com. You can follow him on Twitter at jimcaple.


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