Almanac Baseball: Opening Day MLB 2017

The sense of expectation of a new MLB season afflicts baseball fans in different ways. You can pore over the Spring Training stats looking for portents of the season ahead but be left as confused as the ‘un-poring’. You can check in whimsically on the news and tidbits of the off-field manoeuvers to sate your interest. Or perhaps you can wake up one day and realise it’s Opening Day.

 

I love the notion of happenstance. So when I finally updated my AtBat app and started getting notifications of the action stateside I started paying attention. This narrative arc would be best served if it could be exemplified in one story, one player and one piece of history.

 

Enter Madison Bumgarner. His exploits in the 2014 World Series were extraordinary – MVP, 2 wins and a save in 3 starts – but that was a different time. He was merely one of the greatest aces in the majors but he wasn’t a slugger to boot. Throughout 2016, he showed glimpses of rectifying that hole in the CV. On Opening Day 2017 the inner slugger emerged in spectacular fashion.

 

In a sport redolent with intriguing facts and figures there was a gap that most probably never knew existed. No pitcher has ever hit more than a solo home run on Opening Day. MadBum addressed that shortfall.

 

There is immense pressure on a starting pitcher to perform on Opening Day. It is not as intense as the post season but fans can be unforgiving on a sub-par day one performance. So to do your day job in an exemplary manner (7 innings pitched with 11 strikeouts) but then clear the outfield on two separate occasions on your only two at bats, well that’s quite miraculous and, indeed, historic.

 

Baseball is a sport like no other with a sense of occasion and ritual that reminds the modern world of the seething humanity that came before can be tamed and subdued inside a ballpark. As the 2017 MLB season unfurls with the usual markers to come, All Star Game and the Fall Classic, it is heartening to see a grand marker laid down at the outset.

 

We have our hero and his wonderful moniker of MadBum. We also have our villain – the Yankees, and as if it were a Frank Capra film, they lost. All is right with the world for a day at least.

 

About

Grew up playing the rugby codes in suburban Sydney. Moved to Melbourne during the Carey era so becoming a Shinboner was the natural call. Still love the game they play in heaven. Took an interest in MLB a few years back and have become infatuated with America's pastime.

Comments

  1. Love the history and culture of American baseball. Nearly 200 years ago the Yanks worked out that about 3 hours was sufficient engagement for players and spectators alike. Cricket is coming to terms with the concept.
    Living in the US for a short time 30 years ago it was easy to get immersed in the teams and the players. These days I find it hard to understand the structure, serious teams and serious players from afar. I generally wait until play-off time has sorted the wheat from the chaff for me.
    Is Bumgarner the best hitting pitcher of all time? I can remember some who were competent but not stars. He would be wasted in the American League with the designated hitter.
    Thanks for keeping the flame alive Ruminator.

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