Not pictured: the team that’s gonna fuckin’ win today!!
I think I’ve come down with a case of trench foot after traversing the slushy streets of Montreal from Parc-X to the train station yesterday, and the weather back here at home has hardly been less abysmal. And yet… baseball. Holy fucking shitting fucking baseball! It’s here! Today!
At 4:10 PM ET, to be precise!
Arriving with the exact opposite of the sort of fanfare that we were swept up in last year — the “coronation” that so irked Cleveland broadcasters — the Jays begin under the radar, under the ugly catwalks of Tropicana Field, and under nothing like the same weight of expectations. None of this, in other words. In fact, most pundits figure the club will finish last in the division, and with the question marks in the rotation and elsewhere, it’s hard to blame them.
But why focus on that on a day like this? Because we learned very quickly last year that what all of the predictions and projections amount to is something approximating jack fuckin’ shit. So, while it may be flawed to simply think that this is basically the same roster that was expected to contend this year, therefore they must be contenders again — sorry, it’s not at all the same roster, in terms of reasonable expectations, and it’s not as though the teams around them have remained static — that doesn’t mean that things can’t go really, really well.
There is a lot of talent here, and a lot to actually be excited about. Drew Hutchison is untested, but looking very good, and certainly not the sort of injury-waiting-to-happen that those who want to slag him for having had Tommy John surgery — sort of like everyone does — want to believe. Morrow and McGowan will almost assuredly pitch well for as long as they can stay healthy, and when they do break down, the club could do worse than giving a few turns to Todd Redmond, Esmil Rogers or Marcus Stroman, before shifting their gaze to where Aaron Sanchez is at in double-A, having looked far more the potential front line big leaguer during the spring than his minor league record, and its 134 walks in 256 minor innings, has shown.
The bullpen, even without Casey Janssen out of the gate, looks to be as strong as ever, and the lineup, even with its glaring holes — its lack of a true platoon partner for Lind, its lack of a true centre field backup, its lack of a late inning pinch runner, its Ryan Goins — will find all kinds of ways to hit, even with less-twitchy 2014 Brett Lawrie still topping everything in sight. And defensively, Goins at least won’t bring the kind of butchery we saw at second last year. Reyes — despite it being eminently true that, as a defensive shortstop, he’s a really good hitter — is certainly a better sight there than Munenori Kawasaki or Maicer Izturis (who, combined, played in 85 games at short, in whole or in part, in 2013). And the successful removal of a tumour on Melky Cabrera’s spinal column has made him look an eternity removed from the arthritic sloth we saw in left field last season.
So lets get excited! Like these guys two years ago at Opera Bob’s:
[Note: let's also maybe not get catatonic with despair if they have a mark in the loss column with only 161 games to go. It's early. Baseball is hard.]
The scene should be very similar there today — depending on what David Price and R.A. Dickey do, of course — though hopefully maybe less entirely-full-of-dudes, perhaps with more of those Encarnacion’s parrot shirts (which are apparently being sold again), and definitely more full of folks involved in making Sports Bar Heroes, who are helping to co-promote the event, and will be showing the video post-game, in order to get you excited enough for the project to give them support that’s really needed to make it happen and to secure funding by following @SportsBarHeroes on Twitter, and checking out the demo video on YouTube. Or… y’know… right here *COUGH*:
(For those of you unawares, I explained the whole Sports Bar Heroes thing here.)
Also different between today and two years ago is the fact that I’ll be taking some pictures of the event for the newly-started DJF Instagram page, which you should totally follow — especially today, because I’ll make a point of keeping an eye on the scene at the bar, in terms of it getting to capacity.
It was an issue the last time we did this, so I’d recommend getting there early if you can — the bar opens at 2 PM — and following for updates on the aforementioned Instagram, on my Twitter feed (@AndrewStoeten), via @SportsBarHeroes, @DrunkJaysFans, and @OperaBobs. (Meaning, we’ll let you know if it gets to the point where there’s not much chance anybody else is getting in.)
So… this is it! Opening Day!
Read Drew’s love letter! Follow everyone I’ve linked to above! If you’re in St. John’s, NL, hit up The Bigs Ultimate Sports Grill! If you’re in Toronto, come to Opera Bob’s! Find it at 1112 Dundas St. West, at Ossington! Write a sentence ending in an exclamation! Crack a beer or thirteen! Watch some actual, real, counts-in-the-standings baseball!!!!!!
And one more: admire John Gibbons for understanding platoons, and for putting his neck on the line with his starter at second base! Now here are your Opening Day lineups!
Toronto Blue Jays
SS Jose Reyes (S)
LF Melky Cabrera (S)
RF Jose Bautista (R)
1B Edwin Encarnacion (R)
DH Dioner Navarro (S)
3B Brett Lawrie (R)
CF Colby Rasmus (L)
2B Maicer Izturis (S)
C Josh Thole (L)
RHP R.A. Dickey
Tampa Bay Rays
CF David DeJesus (L)
RF Wil Myers (R)
2B Ben Zobrist (S)
3B Evan Longoria (R)
1B James Loney (L)
LF Desmond Jennings (R)
DH Matt Joyce (L)
C Jose Molina (R)
SS Yunel Escobar (R)
LHP David Price