Down the Left Field Line: Opening Week of Baseball Season

There are a couple of congruent sporting events happening in my world this week that is a bit unusual. For one the city I live in is in an uproar about their college basketball team, namely because they’ve made it to the Final Four. Good deal for a Missouri Valley Conference team. We’re going to watch Wichita St. on Saturday night with some friends and neighbors and see if they can’t make it to the championship game. That’d be fun. The second, and more near to my heart, event of the week was of course Opening Day and the opening series for all of Major League Baseball. Some will call me a traitor and a bandwagoner for abandoning the Cubs to trade in the for the Giants but I want to at least justify myself here. First, I haven’t sold out the Cubs completely (and this will label me a “fair-weather fan”), however, I like to enjoy baseball season past the month of April into the summer and frankly, I’m not sure the Cubs have the horsepower this year to be anywhere else but in the basement. I’m keeping my eye on the team as usual but I’m not investing my heart in them like I usually do. The ghost of Bartman still haunts me in my sleep at nights.

My rising affections for the Giants is more an affection for NorCal and my friends there. Yes, I would heckle and criticize them during the Bonds era, but the recent World Champion iterations of the Giants are plain fun to watch. They play the game well from pitching to hitting to defense, and they are a cast of characters worth watching. Add to it that both the radio and television broadcasters are the best in the business right now makes it a completely enjoyable experience. Except there is one problem…

The games on the West coast start at 9pm here. What that means is that I have a hard time making it through the full game to the end. By the fourth or fifth inning my eyes are heavy and I am about to fall asleep. John Miller’s radio voice is very soothing and I don’t think he helps my cause. Nevertheless it’s baseball season and while it’s only the first week, I’m glad for the ride that’s ahead.

Baseball books I’ve read this winter:

  • The Natural, Bernard Malmud - forget most everything you know about the Robert Redford film. The story of this book is much more complex, much more interesting, much darker than the Roy Hobbs story of Hollywood. That also makes it much better.
  • The Bullpen Gospels, Dirk Hayhurst - This book was fun to read, purely from the baseball-jock stories of minor leaguers that ran through it. But don’t let the baseball front page be the only thing you see here, there was a strong message of where identity is found. I’m going to have to read Hayhurst’s other books to see where this journey takes him, but the minor-league bounce-around was good reading.
  • Baseball Prospectus - this is an annual guide to the season ahead with projections on all the players and teams. I read it just to envision the season ahead. It has some really witty lines. Baseball geeks eat this stuff up, and now you know where I fall.

The Midcontinential Wichitawesomes Weekly Boxscore:

I play rotisserie (fantasy) baseball and we’ve had almost a full weeks worth of baseball: here’s my stat line and ranking through Thursday, April 4th.

Batters Pitchers
Category R RBI HR SB AVE K W SV ERA WHIP
Stats 19 5 17 0 .2242 34 3 2 2.204 1.10
Rank 5 5.5 4 1.5 3 5 7.5 4.5 7 7

Overall I’m 8th in the league of ten with a total score of 50 points.