The first part of Spring is over. The fields are vacant all over Arizona and Florida where the Show put on its previews-before-Broadway best for the past month and a half before opening tonight. Kinks were worked out. Arms got stronger. Hitting got in sync with mid-season form. The routine of the marathon called a season began. Umpires appeared to be under special scrutiny as the new rules of challenging calls came into play. Pitchers pitched. Hitters hit and Aramis Ramirez hit doubles and didn’t slide once. And if he does, fire the idiot third base coach. Now its time. As Humphrey Bogart said, “A hot dog at the ballgame beats roast beef at the Ritz.”
Tonight the season begins but without one of the best pitchers in baseball. Clayton Kershaw was placed on the DL on Saturday. He looked so very sharp during Spring Training. Hyun-jin Ryu is starting tonight in his place. Mike Trout of the Angels just signed one of the biggest contracts for easily the best young player in the game. Miggy signed a huge contract with the Tigers because he is Miggy and has back-to-back MVPs under his belt. But, without Prince, will he be pitched around? But enough about hitting.
The Western Division of the National League will be different this year. The challenger, Arizona, will be working without its opening day starting pitcher, Patrick Corbin and its top reliever, David Hernandez. Both will be out for the entire year with Tommy John surgery, which Corbin had perfumed a few days ago. Pitching wins pennants. The D’Backs won’t be that fortunate this season. They will begin the season with Brandon McCarthy taking the mound on Opening Day. Then on Tuesday, Wade Miley starts. Trevor Cahill will start on Wednesday. Then there are the Giants. They win the World Series every two years. Last year they didn’t. Starting on Monday, left hander Madison Bumgarner takes the Opening Day mound against the D’Backs in Phoenix. Matt Cain, the big right hander will start on Tuesday. Tim Hudson will begin game #3 on Wednesday and the incomparable, right hander Tim Lincecum will start on Thursday. Guess who is in the driver’s seat now? As for the Padres, Andrew Cashner will be the starting pitcher tonight against the Dodgers, his first Opening Day starting assignment. On Tuesday, Ian Kennedy, the former D’Backs ace who was traded to San Diego last year at the deadline, love Petco Park. He is 7-2 in it and a great 2.41 ERA. Then on Wednesday, Tyson Ross is on the mound for the Padres. He has a terrific slider. All right-handed, they play in a pitcher friendly big park. As for the Dodgers, now its Hyun-jin Ryu, Zack Greinke and Dan Haren. On Monday night in Miami, the Colorado Rockies open the season with Jorge De La Rosa on the mound. On Tuesday, a second left hander, Brett Anderson, will take the mound. On Wednesday, a right hander, Tyler Chatwood, starts. Then on Thursday, another right hander, Juan Nicasio will start for the Rockies.
Why highlight the Western Division? You know, the California teams plus two? This is where the battle will be the greatest. With the biggest payroll in baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers are EXPECTED to win everything this year. Arizona is expected to be challenging all the way. San Francisco is always tough. The San Diego nine is up and coming. And the Colorado Rockies play a mile high. It is a tough place to play especially for visiting pitchers who try to throw breaking balls.
So, the guess for this season’s team out of the West will be the San Francisco Giants. Pitching wins and they have the pitching.