Thursday may have been officially Opening Day, but Friday was the first time that the reality sank in. It is truly a beautiful thing when the chaotic nature of a full slate rushes over fans. There is nothing like the endless run of baseball from the middle of the day to the wee hours of the night.
Friday was full of stories and moments that set the tone for what the 2022 season might entail. Whether you were looking for walk-offs, home runs, big hits, bench-clearing, or solid pitching, yesterday had it all. Here are the eight best moments from baseball.
Earning Your Pinstripes
How’s this for a Yankee Stadium debut? The Yankees’ fan base has been quite vocal about their displeasure with the lack of big additions in the offseason. Josh Donaldson’s trade to the Yanks came in with a whimper and did not inspire excitement on River Avenue. This was mostly due to his recent bout with injuries, and who could forget his long-standing feud with the ace pitcher, Gerrit Cole?
However, there is nothing more that can endear you to the fanbase in the Bronx than coming up big in the clutch. Josh Donaldson did just that when he walked off the Red Sox in the bottom of the 11th in the Yankees’ first game of the season. He joined a shortlist of just three Yankees to notch a walk-off RBI in their debut in Pinstripes. Josh Donaldson joins Roy Weatherly, who did the same in 1943, and most recently Chase Headley in 2014. Today was also the first time the Yankees’ walked off in their home opener since 1957. It has been a while.
Walk-off, in extras, in your debut with a new team vs their rival.
Not bad, Josh Donaldson 😎
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) April 8, 2022
Belt on a Boat
To start the 2022 campaign, the captain wanted to show who was really in charge. Grandly, he entered Friday’s game against the Marlins with the pride of a thousand seas. As the music from Pirates of the Caribbean blared through the speakers, Brandon Belt appeared in front of an electric San Francisco crowd, complete with the ‘C’ stitched on the back of his jersey.
He was wearing a captain’s hat as he made his way around the field in his little boat to top off the look. A moment to remember and certainly now has ‘Lonely Island’ stuck in my head for the foreseeable future.
CAPTAIN BELT'S BOAT ENTRANCE IS EPIC 😂 pic.twitter.com/nmAPXy29dG
— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) April 8, 2022
Fireworks in the Nation’s Capital
This may not be a “best” moment, but it sure was a significant one. Emotions got the better of both sides when the Mets had another batter plunked yesterday in Nationals Park. Being that it was the fourth in the first two games of the season, the Mets were frustrated with how the season was starting. Francisco Lindor took a Steve Cishek to the face when he tried to lay down a bunt.
Luckily for Lindor, he had the C flap on his helmet, which protected him from more serious injury. Cishek was ejected from the game by the umpires, and tensions continued to flare.
It was a scary moment to watch one of the most electrifying players in baseball spill into the dirt. Following the game, we got the news that the X-rays taken on Lindor’s jaw were negative, and he was cleared through the concussion protocol.
Benches clear after Francisco Lindor is hit by a pitch. He is the fourth Mets batter hit in 14 innings.
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) April 9, 2022
El Mago Walks it Off
Javier Báez is always in the middle of something. His first game as a member of the Tigers could be no different. He was the hero in Detroit on Friday as he walked off the White Sox with a base hit that banged off the right-field wall, which resulted in Austin Meadows crossing the plate with the winning run.
The play was called an out at first. However, with the aid of the video review, it transparently showed the ball hitting off the wall before right fielder AJ Pollock fumbled it and caught it. The crowd went nuts when umpire Marvin Hudson made the call overturned ruling as the Tigers spilled out onto the field to celebrate an Opening Day victory.
That’s a Javy Báez ball-off-the-wall walk-off against the White Sox. pic.twitter.com/w3LoFMtWOI
— OBVIOUS SHIRTS® (@obvious_shirts) April 8, 2022
The Phanatic Makes a Grand Entrance
For the first time since 1993, the Phillie Phanatic decided to make an entrance via way of a parachute. Maybe he was trying to bring some good luck to the expectation-laden Phils because 1993 wound up being a pennant-winning year. They are hoping history repeats itself there. Because they have watched their playoff drought rise to 11 years. Change up the luck!
The Phanatic used a parachute to make his entrance into Citizens Bank Park right before the first pitch on Friday to thunderous applause. The best part had to be the recovery after the pretty rough landing. It’s hard to find a better mascot in all sports.
Phillie Phanatic just crossing things off his bucket list pic.twitter.com/GvlvVukKFk
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) April 8, 2022
Manaea Masterful in Friars’ Debut
New faces in new places always bring a level of intrigue into the season, Sean Manaea was moved just five days ago, and he is already becoming a fan favorite in San Diego. He flashed no-hit stuff throughout his season debut while leaving the Arizona lineup confused and befuddled. He finished the night with no hits to his line but was removed due to a pitch count concern.
Finished STRONG. 💪
Manaea finishes his night on the mound after 7 innings with a phenomenal stat line:
— Bally Sports San Diego (@BallySportsSD) April 9, 2022
Blue Jays Surge Back
Falling behind 7-0 early, Toronto was not ready to go quietly on Opening Day. They chipped away at the deficit they found themselves in and eventually found a way to tie things up with the Rangers in the bottom of the fifth on the back of a three-run tater from Teoscar Hernández. The Jays went on to win the game 10-8 against a stunned Texas Rangers squad.
I also want to make note of how nice it is to have a full-throated Toronto crowd back in the stadium rooting on the Blue Jays. They provide one of the best environments and atmospheres in all of baseball.
In case you didn't know…
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) April 9, 2022
Red Sox Cleat Game on Fire
The Red Sox walked into Yankee Stadium with style on Friday. It would be challenging to find any players that looked better than them on the field on Friday.
Xander Bogaerts, who is aptly nicknamed X-Man, wore his take on superhero cleats complete with wolverine claws. These are fun and allow players to express themselves and their personalities. This is so important if you want to help develop stars throughout the game of baseball. Letting players be themselves and have fun is such an important part of selling the game on the field.
— Red Sox (@RedSox) April 8, 2022
Christian Vazquez jumped into the fashion fray while also rocking some sweet cleats. He wore some Toy Story-themed cleats on Friday. He had one dedicated to Buzz Lightyear and the other dedicated to Woody.
— Joon Lee (@joonlee) April 8, 2022
This was such a fun way to start the season. It’s amazing to think that we still have the full season of games ahead of us to look forward to. Baseball is truly a blast, and Friday was just the latest example of it.
Photo by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns of Twitter)