Tag Archives: opening day

MLB Opening Day: The Only No Hitter

The opening day of the baseball season has been filled with historic moments and happenings.  Moments like Hank Aaron tying Babe Ruth’s home run record and Ted Williams hitting .449 in all of his opening day game appearances.  One of these milestones happened in 1940 and has yet to be repeated on the day that starts the long baseball season, a no hitter.

On April 16, 1940 at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Hall Of Fame pitcher Bob Feller made the history books when he threw his first no hitter.  Completing a no hitter as a pitcher is incredible enough but there is another element that makes this feat even more incredible, this is the only occurrence of a no hitter on Opening Day.  On that day Feller pitched his Cleveland Indians to a 1-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox.  The eventual game winning run was scored by the Indians in the 4th inning when Jeff Heath scored on a Rollie Hemsley hit.  The losing pitcher that day was Eddie Smith.

Bob Feller would have two more no hitters in his career before he retired in 1956.  Those came in the 1946 and 1951 seasons against the Yankees and Tigers.  Bob Feller was inducted into the Baseball Hall Of Fame in 1962.  Feller amassed 266 wins and 162 loses and threw 2,581 strikeouts.  An interensting note to his career is that he also threw 12 one hit games on top of his three no hitters.


History Now: Peyton Manning Ties Single Game TD Record

Future Hall Of Famer Peyton Manning added his name to another record in NFL history on  September 5th, 2013.  The Denver Broncos and Manning defeated the defending Champions the Baltimore Ravens by a score of 47-29 in Denver tonight.  The most remarkable stat of all in the game was the number of touchdown passes Manning threw.

Quarterback Peyton Manning (Getty Images)

Quarterback Peyton Manning (Getty Images)

Peyton Manning threw 7 touchdown passes.  The receivers on the other end of these TD’s were Demaryius Thomas (2), Wes Welker (2), Julius Thomas (2) and Andre Caldwell (1) .  Five of the touchdowns came in the second half of this opening game.

With this feat Peyton Manning joins only five other QB’s who have thrown this many touchdowns in a single game. Some of those he now shares the record with are all time greats like Sid Luckman, Adrian Burk, George Blanda, Y.A. Tittle and Joe Kapp.  Joe Kapp was the last to throw 7 TD’s in a single game in 1969.  This is a truly amazing record and one that Manning will add to all of his other records to land him in Canton.

Hank Aaron Tied Babe Ruth’s Home Run Record On Opening Day 1974

Many know that Hank Aaron was the first player to tie and break Babe Ruth’s all time home run record.  However most don’t know that the historic tying home run came on Opening Day.  On April 4th, 1974 the Hank Arron and Atlanta Braves played the Reds in Cincinnati, Oh.  It was in that game that Aaron hit his 714th career home run.  The historic home run came in Hank Aaron’s first at bat of the 1974 season.  Jack Billingham was the pitcher that gave up the home run.

Hank Aaron being congratulated on home run 714. (Getty Images)

Hank Aaron being congratulated after home run 714. (Getty Images)

There was no better place for this incredible moment to happen in Cincinnati.  The city is home to the first ever professional baseball team, the Reds.  Everyday until 1990 the Reds had thrown the first pitch in every baseball season.  Opening Day is even an official holiday in the city, complete with a parade.

That great Opening day moment almost never happened.  Prior to the season opener the Braves management was worried that Aaron would not only tie but break the record in Cincinnati.  They were so concerned that he was going to sit out the first series of the season until the team returned to Atlanta.  The Braves were forced to play Aaron in at least two games of the three game series.

Hank Aaron would not hit another home run until April 8th, 1974 in Atlanta.  That home run would be his 715th and broke Ruth’s all time record.  Aaron retired after the 1976 season with the Brewers.  When his career was over Aaron had 755 career home runs.


The Pursuit Of Baseball In Tampa

The State of Florida has been the home of Spring Training since the early part of the 1900s. Up until 1993 Florida never had a professional baseball team to call their own.  The Florida Marlins who were based in the Miami area were the first.  The Tampa Bay Devil Rays were soon to follow in 1998.  But Florida has a deep history of pursuing Major League Baseball before they received their teams in the 1990s.
It started in 1983 in the Tampa Bay area when local city officials considered building a baseball stadium to house a pro team.  Construction began in 1986 on what is now known as Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.  It was completed in 1990.  At the time there were no expansion franchises being granted for any city.  So they sought a team the best way they could, trying to lure a team from their current city.
Tropicana Filed,  The stadium that would bring baseball to the Tampa Bay area. (Getty Images)

Tropicana Filed, The stadium that would bring baseball to the Tampa Bay area. (Getty Images)

The Chicago White Sox were the first team that Tampa pursued.  In 1989 The White Sox were not happy in the old Comiskey Park and wanted a new stadium.  They flirted with Tampa for a while before ultimately getting their new stadium and staying in Chicago.
The next team that was rumored was the Seattle Mariners.  The talks did not go very far and the Mariners remained in Washington.
Tampa had their hearts broken in 1991 when they were denied an expansion franchise.  The Miami area won out instead of Tampa and the Florida Marlins came into existence.  The Marlins played the first ever regular season game in Florida in April of 1993.
The closest that Tampa ever came to stealing a team away from a city was in 1993.  The San Francisco Giants owners were looking to sell and a group of investors from Tampa were looking to buy them.   The deal was almost done.  The local baseball fans were already celebrating and then the bad news came.  The sale was vetoed by the National League Owners.  The Giants remained in San Francisco and Tampa was still without a team.
That was until in 1995 when they were granted an expansion franchise.  The Tampa Bay Devil Rays played their first regular season game in 1998.
The past does make one wonder how different things would be if the White Sox, Mariners or Giants would have relocated to Tampa.  If the White Sox or Mariners would have moved would there have been a team in Miami in 1993?  Probably not, there more than likely would have been years later though.  The Giants move would have been interesting.  The city of San Francisco would probably have a different team right now.  There is no way that City would be without a team for too long, not with their tradition and history.

It’s really incredible how things turned out for Tampa.  They took a huge risk by building a stadium without having a team for it.  For many years they looked like failures.  Many in the city thought they would never have a team to call their own.  But Tampa proved to be very persistent and got what they wanted in the end.


The Highs And Lows From The First Weekend of Baseball

Johan Santana throws out the first pitch on Opening day for the Mets in New York.
(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Baseball is back and the first weekend is complete.  It was an exciting and surprising weekend for many teams.  If you missed any of the action here are some of the highlights and low lights.

For the first time since 1966 both the Yankees and Red Sox started off the season 0-3.  The Yankees were swept by the Rays in Tampa, beating them 3-0 on Sunday.  No need to fear Yankees fans.  The last time the Yankees started 0-3 was 1998, and they ended up winning 114 games and the World Series title.  The Red Sox lost an extra inning game on Sunday 13-12 to complete the sweep by the Detroit Tigers.  The Tigers proved to be as powerful as everyone thought going into the season.  Point proven when Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera both homered in the 10-0 during Saturday’s gave versus the Red Sox.  The Tigers scored a combined 26 runs during their first three games.   I expect both teams to bounce back from their sweeps this week.

The Pirates Andrew McCutchen celebrating on Sunday after a walk off RBI single against the Phillies.
(Getty Images)

Another shocking thing came from this first weekend,  The Pirates took two out of three from the Phillies.  Both of the victories were of the walk-off type.  The first happened on Saturday in extra innings when Rod Barajas drove in Alex Presley for the 2-1 victory.  The second came on Sunday after the Pirates tied the score at 4-4.  Andrew McCutchen drove in the winning run lifting the Pirates over the Phillies by a score of 5-4.  The Pirates could be interesting to watch if you base any value on this first weekend.

The “new” every thing Marlins began the season with a surprising 1-3 start.  They started their first two games with no offense and loses to the Cardinals and the Reds.  The first lose was to the Cardinals in their brand new ballpark in a 4-1 effort.  On Saturday in their third game the offensive power showed up in a 8-3 victory over the Reds, the fish had three home runs in that game.  Sunday brought their third lose of the season when the Reds rallied in the bottom of the ninth.  Scott Rolen came in as the pinch hitter and drove home the winning run to give the Reds the 6-5 victory over the Marlins.  It will be interesting to see how the Marlins play in Philadelphia this week against what many consider to be the best rotation in the league.

Opening Day history was made on Thursday when the Blue Jays went to the 16th inning with the Indians.  J.P. Arencibia hit the game winning three run homer to put the Blue Jays on top of the Indians 7-4 in that game.  The game broke the previous opening day record of 15 innings held by the Tigers and Indians from 1960 and another 15th inning game between Philadelphia and Washington in 1926.  There is something really special about seeing records broken that have stood for so long.

Albert Pujols went 0-3 in his debut for the Angels in their 5-0 victory over the Royals on opening day.   The Royals ended up taking 2 out 3 games from the Angels this weekend.  Pujols has a .143 batting average to show for his first weekend with his new team.  The Angels have to be surprised how this first series ended with Pujols slumping.  I have no doubt he will continue to be the most feared slugger in the game though.

The A's Yoenis Cespedes going long.
(Getty Images)

There is an emerging star in Oakland.  The high paid Cuban Yoenis Cespedes, has played incredibly during his first series in the Major Leagues.  He is batting .308 with 3 home runs, 7 RBI’s and 3 runs.  He goes against everything “Moneyball” GM Billy Beane has been able to do in the past with little money allowed to him for the A’s.  This year he was able to get big money for this highly touted free agent.  It appears that Cespedes will be worth the money spent if he keeps producing like he the past four games.

The Mets played better than expected by sweeping the Braves in three games.  Its is the first time the braves have started the season 0-3 since 2003.  The Mets were expected to occupy the cellar in the N.L. East and still very well could, but they are looking pretty good coming out of the first weekend.

The Mariners Brandon League celebrates after getting the save against the A's on Saturday.
(Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)

Oh yeah, there was good pitching also.  Kyle Lohse had a solid 7.1 inning game against the Marlins on Wednesday and picked up the win.  The Nationals Stephen Strasburg had a great 7 inning game with 5 k’s in Thursdays victory over the Cubs, although he did not get the win.  The Mets Jonathon Niese had a no hitter going into the 7th inning against the Braves on Sunday.  The no-no was ended though, it would have been the first no hitter in the Mets 51 season history.  The Mariners Brandon League picked up 2 saves this weekend.  League could end up being one of the best closers in the A.L. if the M’s can continue to produced solid games for him to finish.  Other than Niese’s possible no hitter there were no amazing moments by any pitcher,  just a lot of solid pitching throughout both of the leagues.  Some experts are calling this season “The Year Of The Pitcher III”, but I think we will have to wait and see about that.

If you take a look at the standings right now there are 5 teams that started the season 3-0.  Those teams are Orioles, Rays, Tigers, Mets and D Backs.  The season is very long though and as we all know a lot of teams fall off by July.  So no one should get too excited or upset at this point.  This first weekend has been very exciting and if its any indication of what is to come I think it will be a great year for the fans.


Miami Marlins – Where is the Offense?

Rough couple of games for the fish.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The biggest story up to this point of opening week has to be the story of the Miami Marlins and their lack of offense.  They opened up their new stadium to much fanfare on Wednesday night, in a  4-1 loosing effort to the St. Louis Cardinals.  The Marlins Ace Josh Johnson pitched well but not up to the level that is expected of this potential Cy Young pitcher.  The reigning World Series MVP David Freese was the star of this game with 3 hits and 2 RBI’s in 5 visits to the plate.  The Marlins then traveled to Cincinnati to play the Reds yesterday and loss 4-0.  The Marlins new pitcher Mark Buehrle had a good outing but did not have the offense behind him to have any chance of succeeding in this game.  Cincinnati dominated with the pitching of Cueto and the offensive power of players like Jay Bruce.

The bottom line after two games is that the Marlins offense has sucked!  The entire team is batting below .200. The pitching is good but the team can’t succeed without the offense they are supposed to have.  Hanley Ramirez and Mike Stanton have been the two biggest problems on offense so far. Neither player have reached base off a hit in a combined 16 plate appearances.  They need to get it together quick or the team will be fighting to get back in the standings before April is over.

They have Friday off and will certainly be gathering themselves to play the Reds again on Saturday.  The team has finally garnered the attention of the nation and has opened up like the Marlins of old.  Time is precious and this team could get down in the dumps really quick.  I feel the Marlins need to snap out of this 2 game slump and play like the playoff contenders they are.  All of that money spent on free agents and new manager needs to be redeemed with wins.  The wins must start Saturday night!


Baseball’s Real Opening Day

Baseball season has finally started but not really.  On Wednesday and Thursday the first two games of the season took place in Tokyo, Japan, between the Oakland Athletics and the Seattle Mariners.  Seattle took the first game in extra innings with a final score of 3-1, Ichiro was the star of that game in his home country going 4 for 5 with an RBI.  The A’s won the second game 4-1 with their high paid Cuban acquisition Yoenis Cespedes who homered after having just a one hit game with two strike outs in the first game.  Now the two teams head back to the US to play…exhibition games!

I find it pretty ridicuous that MLB takes the first  official games of the season to Japan, which they have done for the last few years.  Its even more ridiculous that the two teams that started the season still have to play games that don’t count.  I agree its a nice thing to bring Ichiro back to his home country where they broadcast every game he plays in during the season, but its hardly a reason to make such a decision to bring regular season games there.  One could argue that its to expand the game’s reach around the world,  but they already have baseball and very competitive leagues.  There is also the situation of the smaller ballpark which inflates stats for only two games. Then reality will set back in, here in the U.S., when they play in roomier parks.  I know it won’t stop anytime soon but I wish it would.

The real opening day takes place on Thursday when  all of the teams start a new and aim for the World Series.  The first set of games will start at 1pm eastern time and go through the night.  I like the fact that the opening day in the U.S. is starting on a Thursday and carrying on into the weekend.  In years past the season started in the middle of the week and it took some of the special feel away.  The ballparks will be packed and ready to rock.

This season holds a lot of questions. With a new incredible ballpark in Miami where they have stocked up the team with high paid free agents Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and new manager Ozzie Guillen.  Over in L.A. you have the power house Albert Pujols who will look to capture another World Series title and cement his legacy as one of the best players baseball has ever seen.  Detroit picked up Prince Fielder and brought him back to the city where his father Cecil played for years. He will undoubtedly make them strong contenders for the World Series title.  There are many other story lines, but those are by far the main one to follow as the season begins.

Baseball is still America’s sport. No matter how popular the game of football becomes in the U.S., baseball will always hold a place in the history of this great country.  With such a rich history it is hard to not get excited and interested in the beginning of every season.  For some fans, depending on how your team does, by July it can be hard to stay interested.  It’s going to be a great season and I can’t wait for it to start on Thursday. Anything can happen when the season starts and that’s what I love about baseball.