Baseball is finally back. After coming off last year’s mini season of only 60 games, many players of Major League Baseball are delighted to be able to have a full season with some fans present. As a huge Chicago Cubs fan myself, of course I tuned in to watch the Home Opener. Unfortunately, no W flag flew, but I did find a couple of important takeaways, some of which may play out as the season continues.
1.Baseball Isn’t Built for the Cold.
There’s a reason baseball is a summer sport. Chicago was in 30-degree weather for the opener on April Fool’s Day, and it showed. Uniforms on the field included long sleeve shirts under jerseys and wearing hats and coats in the dugout. Also, players crouched in front of heaters in between innings, and pitchers were constantly blowing into their hand in order to be able to get a good grip on the ball. This may have been a contributing factor to the multiple walks Chicago gifted to the Pittsburgh Pirates throughout the game which leads me to my next takeaway.
2. Pitching is What to Watch.
Maybe it was the cold, maybe the grips just weren’t quite right, but there can’t be as much walking allowed as was seen in this first game. When the game starts off with giving the other team a freebie baseman, it makes you nervous. I’ve seen it before; the influence walks can have on the outcome of a game and I think that our pitching staff knows it too. This is the first game and there’s many left to go so I’m not overly concerned about Chicago pitchers hitting the strike zone, but it will be interesting to watch where the starters and bullpen can go from here.
3. The Infield Looks Good.
With Wilson Contreras behind the plate, base runners had better watch out. His arm is incredible, and is always ready to catch runners with a throw to the other infielders. In the first game, a rundown caught a Pirate between first and second after a throw to first. Javy Baez made a great jumping catch at shortstop to prevent what would have been a base hit allowing the Pirate to further their lead. The infield is still playing well, making smart decisions, and impressive plays. I expect some great highlight material as the season goes on whether it’s a no looker tag from Javy Baez, a quick catch from Kris Bryant at third, or a lunging grab from Anthony Rizzo at first.
4. The Manager and The President.
As the season goes on, it will be interesting to see more of David Ross’s managing style as only a taste of it was displayed last year in the mini season. Additionally, the moves Jed Hoyer has made among the players, such as adding Joc Penderson and bringing back Jake Arrieta, will continue to impact the upcoming games. I’m curious to see how successful the team will be this year with these changes.
5. Fans Make the Game.
If there is one takeaway that matters most, it’s the impact of the presence of fans in the ballpark. I could see the excitement in not only the fans themselves, but the players as well to have a stadium ringing with the cheers, claps, and occasional jeers. The celebration of having fans return was even acknowledged during the 7th inning stretch when Ryne Sandberg expressed how great it was for fans to be back at Wrigley after singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”.
All in all, there’s a long season ahead and I’m not dwelling on this game’s performance for long. I’m excited to be able to watch the games and enjoy a full baseball season and I look forward to the future games where the W flag can proudly fly.