Monday, April 7, 2008

Opening Week 2008

All photos from Miller Park Home Opener available on Flickr.

Major League Baseball rang in the new season in a very unique fashion this year - a set of games in Japan between the Red Sox and Athletics, and the unveiling of a beautiful new ballpark in Washington on the first Sunday Night Baseball broadcast of the season on March 30th. Teams picked to finish near last like the Cardinals, Royals, and Orioles are all at the top of their divisions, while teams with high expectations like the Rockies, Mariners, and Tigers are all at the bottom (apparently $138 million can't buy even one victory for Detroit). Even the Mets and Cubs, who I'm sure most of America picked one of these teams to represent the NL in the World Series, are .500. Even though the season is young, as a famous manager once said, "You can't play your way into the postseason in the first week, but you can certainly play your way out of it." Perhaps the only team in the high-octane first week of the 2008 regular season that has actually achieved what they were expected to - whether good or bad - was the home team, our Milwaukee Brewers.

After coming out of a dramatic series against the Cubs in Chicago with two wins, the Brewers started their home schedule on Friday, April 4th at 1:05 PM. I was one of the 45000+ fans in the standing-room-only crowd that day, and I was again in attendance on Saturday. The weekend drew the highest 3-game weekend total in club history - over 119,000 people. It was my first Opening Day game I could remember, not counting times I tailgated in the parking lot with AM620 on the radio, and it was a blast. Of course drunken debauchery was to be expected - multiple beers spilled on row in front of us, and a fight in the parking lot, to name a couple incidents - but it was awesome to see the support for the team in such numbers. The Brewers ended up sweeping the Giants on three dandy pitching performances by Carlos Villanueva, Manny Parra, and Ben Sheets (CG, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K on Sunday against SF "ace" Barry Zito). The bullpen was a tad shaky at times, but for the most part the revamped relief core delivered as advertised. The Brewers acquired Guillermo Mota, David Riske, Salomon Torres, and Eric Gagne this off-season, and I got to see all four pitch this weekend. All have incredibly different styles, but what they do have in common is that they all pound the strike zone and walk few, and they all can pitch multiple innings except for maybe Gagne. Lastly, the bats were also in full force in Friday's and Sunday's games, and when everyone on the team is destroying the ball EXCEPT arguably their most dangerous hitter Prince Fielder, you know that spells trouble for the rest of the league. As in the bullpen, the two big contributors thus far in the lineup have also been off-season acquisitions - Jason Kendall, who coming into Sunday had the Majors' 3rd highest average, and Gabe Kapler, who is tied for the team lead with 2 HR and is playing a great center field in place of a suspended Mike Cameron and an injured Tony Gwynn Jr. The Brewers are currently 1st in the Majors in RBI, stolen bases, runs, and doubles, and are 2nd in hits.

I will be attending the game against the Reds tomorrow for the Crew's first night game of the '08 campaign. Let's hope we keep running on all cylinders towards the NL Central banner!

Brewers 5-1 (3 v. Reds, 3 @ Mets)
Reds 4-2 (1 v. Phillies, 3 @ Brewers, 3 @ Pirates)
Twins 3-4

Erik - 7
Peter - 3

1 comment:

John said...

Nice post. I am really excited about this season, but the Mariners are sucking pretty bad now. Went to last Tuesday's game and Putz blew a save on a 2 run HR, then promptly went on the DL. Not a very good day!