“The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings.”
Finally, I get to quote the hopeful part of The Green Fields Of The Mind, after a seemingly endless winter just talking about the heartbreak of it all. But in the end, the new CBA was signed and we have real, actual, these-ones-count games of baseball again. Well, minus games in New York and Minneapolis, but thanks to the patented Day Off After Opening Day strategy that MLB pulls, we’ll get those made up tomorrow.
It wasn’t just the first day of the season, it was the first day of the Major League careers for five guys who made it onto the Opening Day rosters for their clubs. Starting in Chicago, where NPB star Seiya Suzuki made his debut in the friendly confines, going 1-for-2 with a pair of walks and accounting for one of the five runs the Cubs scored on their way to victory over the Brew Crew. Here, for posterity, is his first MLB hit:
First @MLB hit for @suzuki_seiya_sb! pic.twitter.com/pAgxYuPD8a
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 7, 2022
We got a double debut day over in Kansas City, and you may have heard of the fella from the home team, he goes by the name of Bobby Witt Jr. A top-tier prospect, KC made it known that Bobby was going to make the roster well before gametime, but he wasted no time making sure everybody knew who he was, turning on a Triston McKenzie breaking ball (emphasis on the ball part, look how high this was!) and hammering it out into left field, driving in what would be the winning run.
Bobby has arrived! @MLB Hit No. 1 is a big one!#OpeningDay // #TogetherRoyal pic.twitter.com/jtEdB7Cz2o
— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) April 7, 2022
Cleveland made up the other half of the debut sandwich, with Steven Kwan starting in right field. Kwan’s not a particularly heralded prospect even in the Guardians’ own system (FanGraphs had him as the #47 prospect in the system in 2021, and MLB Pipeline has him at #15) but the man simply doesn’t strike out, putting up a roughly 8% k-rate last year between AA and AAA. And we all gotta love a dude like that, right? His first hit didn’t come until the 9th inning, but a hit’s a hit, and here’s Steven’s:
We also got to see the big league debuts for both Diego Castillo of the Pirates, and Jeremy Peña of the Astros, but footage of their first MLB hits will have to wait until another time. But probably not a very long time…
Ding Dong, Dingers Are Back
And just like we all expected, the first home run of 2022 was hit by the Cubs’ Nico Hoerner. And while that’s fine and good, dingers mean we also get dinger reactions, and the Cubs faithful present in some less-than-ideal weather yesterday did not disappoint:
The first home run of the season belongs to @nico_hoerner! pic.twitter.com/eb2MnP8j8k
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 7, 2022
I am yet to catch any type of ball at a live baseball event, foul, home run, or otherwise. But I want you all to know that when I do, I hope that I’m able to keep it together as well as the guy in that video clip does. I doubt I will, though.
Vottomatic For The People
Opening Day being the home opener for the defending World Series champion Atlanta, and being shown on ESPN2 means a lot of us were already tuning in to the game last night regardless, but we got a real treat when it turned out that the one, the only Joey Votto was mic’d up. While I think the high-water mark for these types of things are usually found in Spring Training (who can forget Mookie’s raw honesty on a fly ball back in 2018) you better believe I was excited to hear what Ol’ Joey V had to say. And I was not disappointed. It shouldn’t come as any surprise that Votto is a consummate professional as a host over there at first base, whether it be discussing the odd design of his bat handle or consulting with Ozzie Albies on a big personal style change:
GO FOR IT! pic.twitter.com/BPwEh5M2iX
— Cut4 (@Cut4) April 8, 2022
But personally, I think my favorite single moment might have been when he picked up Ozzie’s helmet for him, because manners matter, even in the heat of competition.
Votto was in conversation with the booth for the entirety of the 4th inning, and it’s worth going and watching the whole thing as he does get into his approach/philosophy towards hitting and how it’s changed the last few years, and plus hey listen it’s Joey Votto, just do it.
Also speaking of Votto and hitting and firsts, later in the game he made an out in a way that’s an everyday occurrence for most people, but:
That's Joey Votto's first-ever popout to the pitcher
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) April 8, 2022
Forgive me the most obvious of puns, but I think honestly it gets the point across well when we talk about Shohei Ohtani because it’s just amazing to watch. He got the nod for the Angels’ on Opening Night and like most of the things he does, made history:
Shohei Ohtani is the first player in AL/NL history to both throw his team's first pitch of the season AND face his team's first pitch of the season as a hitter.
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) April 8, 2022
Or to put it more philosophically:
The duality of man pic.twitter.com/arr2J41yDb
— Infield Fly Girl (@infieldflygrl) April 8, 2022
He did draw a tough assignment, going up against the Houston Astros, who ended up besting the Angels 3-1, which means I gotta tap the sign:
every time I see an Angels highlight it's like "Mike Trout hit three homes runs and raised his average to .528 while Shohei Ohtani did something that hasn't been done since 'Tungsten Arm' O'Doyle of the 1921 Akron Groomsmen, as the Tigers defeated the Angels 8-3"
— ℳatt (@matttomic) May 18, 2021
Thursday Was National Beer Day
So here’s Seth Beer cracking open a cold one with the boys.
Do you believe in fairytales? @beer_seth just wrote one. pic.twitter.com/Nt0CEikLce
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) April 8, 2022
Have a great Friday, everybody.
Featured Image Photo by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns of Twitter)