Baseball has finally begun, and I should be singing the sweet praises of how the games now finally count, and regaling in the many stories that have already happened -- the new Yankee Stadium, surprise performances by guys like Emilio Bonifacio and Felipe Lopez, and horrible outings by guys you drafted to anchor your staff.
Instead, I'm a bit cranky -- mainly because as a San Francisco Giants fan, my Opening Day didn't happen until Tuesday. The Braves and Phillies (as well as their fans and fantasy owners) got to kick things off a full two days earlier. Why baseball, of all sports, now officially kicks off its season with a night game is completely beyond me. Whatever -- I can live with that.
What I can't understand is why every other team didn't start the next day. That, my friends, is inexcusable.
Still, the games began with a bit of a bang. Lots of players who were draft day darlings looked promising right out of the gate. Perhaps no one disappointed owners more in 2008 than Jeff Francoeur -- someone for whom I harbor a decent amount of fantasy animosity. But he went deep on Opening Day -- er, Opening Night -- and made those owners who gambled on (or, possibly, got stuck with) him feel pretty good.
I own the aforementioned Bonifacio, the new third baseman for the Marlins, and was pretty happy to get him with my last roster spot for my NL-only team. But even though I've kept tabs on him, I didn't expect him to jump out of the gate like that. On Opening Day, he went 4-for-5, including an inside-the-park HR and three stolen bases. That's making a splash, to be sure. (Of course, he was on my bench, but as they say -- Yeah, but still!) Don't get overly excited about his power; while Bonifacio could conceivably add a few more traditional home runs, his true fantasy value comes from those legs. The Marlins are committed to running this season, so they installed Bonifacio as the leadoff man. I don't think he's going to challenge for a batting title, but he should be a good source of bags and runs if he's still out there in your league.
It's also important to remember Karl Rhodes while you're at it. Remember Karl "Tuffy" Rhodes? I guarantee Dwight Gooden does, as Rhodes connected for three home runs on Opening Day in 1994. He ended the season with eight. Keep things in perspective, whether your team has burst or limped out of the gate.
Loyal readers will note that I make a big deal of playing with on-base percentage instead of batting average. And I'm going to do it again: see Mike Cameron on Tuesday. Cameron isn't exactly known as a good on-base guy (he's got a career .340 OBP) but on Tuesday he went 1-for-1 and stole two bases while scoring twice. Pretty nice, huh? Well, it's even nicer if you know that he also walked four times. In OBP leagues, that's the same as going 5-for-5. If you ignore walks, you are ignoring a big part of the game -- and you are making Mike Cameron sad.
At least Jay Cutler isn't sad anymore. He isn't whining anymore and acting like a petulant millionaire, because he got run out of Denver and traded for Kyle Orton and draft picks. I don't fault Cutler for being upset that new head coach Josh McDaniels attempted to trade Cutler away as soon as he got the job. That is, shall we say, unpleasant news? But whining about it and dissing Broncos management and ownership is not what you want to see from your on-field leader. It does appear that the Broncos are okay with starting the season with Orton behind center, but I'm not nearly as confident. I am downgrading pretty much every Bronco, and up in Chicago I am only really upgrading Matt Forte and probably Greg Olsen to benefit from Cutler's arrival.
Catcher isn't quite the fantasy wasteland that it's been in the past, but there are only a few true studs out there and one, Geovany Soto, had to leave Tuesday's game with right shoulder soreness. It looks like it's just a few days that he'll miss, but this is the kind of thing that absolutely haunts me as a fantasy owner. Early-season injuries, even benign ones, can keep me awake at night. (OK, that's no longer true -- with a 10-month-old, I treasure my sleep and am actually sort of pathetic about this these days. Let's move on.) I'm not really sure what to make of Ichiro Suzuki, out with a bleeding ulcer. It's hard to know how serious this really is, though my inclination is to say, "Not that serious." If that's true, this will only enhance Ichiro's perennially underrated status. (In the meantime, Endy Chavez is making the most of it. Call me crazy, but I ain't buying what Endy is selling.)
Here's a question out there for everyone with a DVR or TiVo type device: Now that you don't have to worry about remembering when a show is on, what shows do you actually try to watch on the night they are aired? Shows like 24 and even Heroes were like that for awhile for me, but at this point, it's down to Lost. Even reality shows that I do watch, like Survivor or The Amazing Race are fine to catch up on a few days later. But Lost? I not only don't want to wait much longer than I have to, but I don't want to risk learning something via the blogosphere or online articles I read on Thursday morning. There used to be a time when headlines on the Web's news pages would announce who got kicked out during Tribal Council or booted out of the Big Brother house, but that seems to have taken a back seat to the global economic climate, a few wars and who Lindsay Lohan's been dating.
Progress? I don't know. But it lets me be a bit lazier, and I'll take whatever I can get in that department.
Until we meet again, good hunting.