Seattle Mariners fans… I’m sorry. I am so sorry.
If Aaron Heilman wasn’t enough, now it’s possible you’ll have to watch Oliver Perez pitch for your team.
Mets fans, some good news: as of now, we don’t have to worry about listening to ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball crew ruin any Mets broadcasts. (They could still maneuver some games into 8:05 p.m. starts later, though.)
And if you’ve got more money and display space than I do, you can bid on the pieces of outfield wall that the Mets are replacing at Citi Field. Sections with championship banners start at $800 (not including delivery, of course.)
We are now 32 days away from spring training.
The 2008 National League baseball season finally began tonight. The hated Atlanta Braves helped the Washington Nationals officially open their new ballpark on the ESPN Sunday Night baseball game.
Now, under ordinary circumstances I avoid ESPN telecasts like the plague… I can’t stand Joe Morgan. And the Braves? Other people hate the Yankees; I hate the Braves. But I haven’t seen a live baseball game that counted for anything since October, so I watched.
And I was treated to an unexpected pitchers’ dual in a beautiful new ballpark.
Tim Hudson had a rough first inning. He gave up a pair of runs and made a throwing error on a pickoff. But he rebounded to retire the final 19 batters he faced without allowing another baserunner.
Odalis Perez was a bigger surprise. He pitched five solid innings, allowing only one run on a Chipper Jones solo shot to center field.
The quick-paced game continued with a 2-1 score in the Nationals’ favor into the ninth inning. Chad Cordero should have come on to close out the victory, but Jon Rauch came jogging in from the bullpen instead. (Peter Gammons mentioned something about Cordero experiencing stiffness when he was warming up — if I were a Nationals fan, I’d be a little concerned.)
Rauch snared a line drive from Chipper Jones for the first out, but then he gave up a long double to Mark Texieira to put the tying run in scoring position. Crap. He got Jeff Francoeur to ground out. Sure, the runner moved up to third, but Rauch had two outs. He looked like he was going to get out of the inning. Then he threw a pitch that Paul LoDuca couldn’t handle, and the tying run scored on a passed ball.
Paul LoDuca, you’re doing a great job of making a Brian Schneider fan out of me already.
So I was all set for extra innings once Rauch retired Brian McCann for the final out. And when Peter Moylan retired the first two Nationals in the bottom of the ninth, it sure looked like I was going to get them.
Fortunately for the Washington fans (and those, like me, who were just rooting against the Braves) Ryan Zimmerman was able to provide some late game heroics.
I love baseball, and I’m happy it’s back.