A Preview of Opening Day For the SF Giants
- Updated: April 2, 2010
Ah, Opening Day!! There really is nothing else quite like it. It is the start of a new season, with new hopes, and new anxieties. I have been to every San Francisco Giants Opening Day from 1988 to 2009, with the exception of 1995. (I was upset about the Baseball Strike of 1994, and skipped the whole season) I will also be there on April 9th at AT &T Park to see the Giants versus the Braves, although the Giants do open on the road versus the Astros on April 5th.
Every year, every team is different coming out of Spring Training with different expectations. Part of the expectations for the new baseball season depend on several factors– off season acquisitions (trades and free agent signings) and player losses, along with what happened the year before. A team who does unexpectedly well– like the Giants did in 2009–is expected to do very well in 2010 by the fans, but not necessarily by the media. Since I am a baseball fan, I don’t care so much about the media. I’m going with my perspective which generally is more hopeful.
The Giants are not without their questions this off season, as are all teams in the National League West. The Giants did add two players who are supposed to enhance their offense– Aubrey Huff, who will be playing first base, and Mark De Rosa, who will be playing left field. The Giants did lose three players– Randy Johnson, who retired, but did not help the team as much as expected in 2009 due to a midseason injury, Bobby Howry, who was one of the solid performers in their bullpen, and Randy Winn, who moved onto the Yankees. I’m not sure if the Giants were interested in re-signing Bobby Howry, but they were content to let Randy Winn move on, and he signed with the Yankees. The Giants think that Winn’s replacement is Major League-ready to play. The proof will be during the season.
There are two significant questions for the off season at two different positions. In right field, the Giants have Nate Schierholtz, who is good defensively, but is an unknown entity offensively. I think that if the Giants just play him day-in, day-out that he’ll be fine. The other position, in question, is second base, due to Freddy Sanchez, being hurt, and coming back from off season surgery. However, Juan Uribe, Jose Uribe’s nephew, a Giants shortstop from the 1980’s and one of my favorite players, is a capable back-up.
The biggest surprise of the whole off season for the Giants was the re-signing of catcher Bengie Molina. I don’t think that anyone ever expected Molina to come back to the Giants, and catcher is such a crucial position in baseball. The Giants were uncertain as to whether or not they should trust a rookie, Buster Posey with the position for the year. While Posey does have a great deal of baseball talent, it was a question of whether his lack of baseball experience was going to show up. I think that the general plan, for this year, is to get Posey’s feet wet at the major league level, and be ready to go for 2011.
The Giants’ strength for 2010 should be the same as it was for 2009– fantastic pitching. They have a rotation of Tim Lincecum, coming off his second Cy Young Award in a row, Matt Cain, who had a very solid year last year, Barry Zito and Jonathan Sanchez who were both very good in the second half of the season. As I said previously, I had the great pleasure of watching Sanchez throw his no-hitter last year on July 10th, 2009. And, the bullpen anchored by closer Brian Wilson is one of the best in baseball. If they can just make the post-season, their pitching could carry them very far, possibly into the World Series.
My favorite moment of Opening Day is walking into the baseball park, and seeing the field, and smelling the freshly cut grass. I just take great pleasure in the sights and the sounds of the ballpark. I am trying to remember if there is one particular Opening Day that stands out for me. I remember one Opening Day at Candlestick Park in, I believe,1989, and the Giants had a lead in the eighth inning until Hall-of-Famer Eddie Murray of the (hated) Dodgers hit a grand slam Home run to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. What I remember most about that game was being there with my friends, sitting in the upper deck and just having fun. The other Opening Day I remember fondly is in 2000 at the opening of AT & T Park, which was originally known as Pacific Bell Park. The transition from Candlestick Park to AT & T Park was absolutely incredible. However, it would have been nice if the Giants hadn’t lost to the Dodgers (yes, again, sigh?) with three home runs hit by Kevin Elster. Who? Exactly, my point….I hate when the Giants lose to the Dodgers.
Well, it should be a very exciting baseball season, and I am ready for it to begin…So, let’s “Play Ball.”