Opening Day snapshots, tweets and observations from Philly
I saw a tweet by a friend early on Friday that said, “Is it just me or does Opening Day have the same intensity as a playoff game?”
I can understand the logic. Maybe it’s the chill in the air, or the packed house filled with extra-loud fans, or maybe it’s just simply the adrenaline rush felt by anyone who had just endured 33 straight fun but meaningless Spring Training games. Whatever the reason, Opening Day is special.
That said, I think television announcer Jim Deshaies summed it up well in the postgame show when he said, “This game was like a really good movie with an ending that (stunk).”
The Astros played pretty spectacularly through eight innings only to lose it in the ninth, behind a bunch of broken-bat singles and at least one well-placed hit off closer Brandon Lyon.
Still, it was comforting to watch Brett Myers pick up where he left off in 2010 with seven strong innings, extra-base hits by Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence and some slick defense by Bill Hall and Brett Wallace, among others. I’ll be honest, after Wednesday’s 10-0 loss to the Red Sox that closed out the exhibition season, I was disturbed and a little worried how this opening weekend was going to go.
I realize that any loss is a bad loss, and that there are a lot of games left to play. But I found the overall effort on Friday encouraging.
Enough game chatter. What else was happening on Opening Day at Citizens Bank Park?
Well, it was cold. I’m sure you heard it was cold, because it’s all anyone could talk about leading up to this trip to Philly. If there’s one thing you need to understand about baseball people, we’re obsessed with the weather. I check my iPhone weather app 10 times a day leading up to a road trip. Then, when I want something more specific, like an hour-by-hour breakdown, I log on to weather.com and dig, dig, dig. Part of it is a need to know how to pack for the trip. But mostly, it’s due to paranoia. The worst thing you can say in this business is probably “season-ending injury,” but a very, very close second is “rain delay.”
The forecast for Friday in Philly was terrible. Rain! Mixed with snow! And wind. Yes, WIND!
But it turned out to be a pretty decent day, reasonably speaking. The local weather reports said the precipitation would move out of the Philly area by 1 ET, and although there was a little drizzle when the game started, the rain did indeed stay away for the duration.
The preference is always to start the season in the home ballpark, but even when a team’s on the road, it’s hard not to get a little caught up in the pomp and circumstance of Opening Day.
Snapping photos and shooting video from the Astros dugout in the half-hour leading up to game time was a treat this time. It’s interesting to see how players respond to the excitement of Opening Day. Some are visibly hyped, some (usually, the veterans) are a little more subdued.
One aspect, which I sense is probably universal throughout the league, is an outward camaraderie among teammates. This was in full force in the Houston dugout on Friday: lots of handshakes and back slaps, and lots and lots of hugging. Man love!
Pregame introductions were nothing out of the ordinary. J.A. Happ was given a nice ovation from his phormer hometown phans, while Brett Myers was roundly booed (probably because he was the starting pitcher for this game).
Enjoy the images from the day…and please watch the video footage here.
The Phillie Phanatic, arguably the best mascot in all of professional sports, was on the top of his game for the opener on Friday. In an over-the-top stunt, a handful of half-dressed men carried the Phanatic out in a giant egg, only to watch him pop out dressed (and later, dancing) as Lady Gaga.
(If you saw the Grammys, you’ll probably find this amusing.)
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