20 Strange And Fascinating Things To Love About MLB’s Return

Baseball is back, and weird, and fun; and it is brilliant.

But the flurry of games is so haywire and frantic – part of its charm, though – there is a lot going on that one might miss.

So here are twenty strange and fascinating things to love about the league and the current status of the game that you may have overlooked during baseball’s first full weekend back in our lives.

1. During his first major league appearance is two plus years, Yoenis Céspedes crushed the first HR by a national league hitter in the nascent Universal DH role.

2. Kyle Hendricks threw the first Chicago Cubs opening-day complete game shutout since 1974.

3. The Seattle Mariners debuted a staggering number of bullpen pitchers to relieve their somewhat feckless starting rotation. And of this hoard, Yohan Ramirez seems like the guy with the highest ceiling. Google Him. It’s worth it.

4. The goofy schlock of the Oakland A’s artificial crowd noise, during their first win against Joe Maddon’s first game managing the Angels since 1999, actually made it possible for me to believe specific ballparks have superior or inferior artificial sonic bombast and gusto.

5. Eric Hosmer became the first left-handed opening-day San Diego Padre with three hits since Tony Gwynn.

6. In one of the highest-rated regular-season baseball games of all time, ESPN reported well over 4 million viewers tuned in for the MLB’s first game back, between the Nationals and the Yankees.

7. Maybe you missed it live, I did. But the internet gently and whimsically roasted Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, D. Anthony Fauci’s atrociously inaccurate ceremonial first pitch. And in defending Fauci’s lack of hurling prowess, the medicinal rockstar and national hero was cited as, more or less, not wanting anyone to catch anything.

8. Dusty Baker, in his first stint as the Astros Manager, made his 3,500th as a major league manager. Despite their drubbing of my beloved M’s, credit where credit is due.

9. Joe Maddon and Mike Trout unofficially but transparently burying the hatchet and just showing up to coach/play despite the bulk of their publicized squabbles making headlines weeks ago.

10. In his first AB of the season, then again during his second game, the Kyle Lewis moonshots off Verlander, and then McCullers, because, for a minute, my hope in the baby M’s dark horse contender status felt emboldened, real, and not in reality, devastatingly embarrassing.

11. While playing entire games extra safe but swaggeringly in a black mask, Didi Gregorious homered for the Phillies in his team and season debut, then pummeled another one the day after.

12. The monstropolous Mookie Betts deal: a Dodger for life. Seven more division championships?

13. Joey Votto’s AB walk-up music choice: the late, brilliant, Mac Miller’s, “Nike’s On My Feet.”

14. The entire super stacked Cincinnati Reds team. The Reds are loaded with talent. They look like a new dark horse to win their division, and, get ready for the BuckWild, win the National League and seriously compete in the World Series. The Universal DH, for them, is a godsend.

15. The city of Buffalo, NY, stepping up at the eleventh hour to host the Blue Jays after the Canadian federal government barred the team from playing in Toronto, literally the week the team was set to begin the season because they could not quarantine for fourteen days after crossing the broader following away games in the US.

16. The new extra innings format, with a runner starting on second base, actually being deployed during the first nationally televised after-hours showdown between the A’s and Angels. I had fun watching five guys crowd the infield grass. Didn’t you?

17. The all-new (revolutionary?) one knee down catching stance used by the Yankees’ Gary Sanchez so he can, this is the rumor, frame more pitches for strikes with way less effort. This is the type of mildly interesting, live-wired and trivial but fundamental tweak that only baseball can produce because it’s simultaneously, and simply, boring, while also feeling extremely high risk.

18. The Boston Red Sox finally and explosively bouncing back from mediocrity; as they won by the largest Opening Day margin in franchise history, 11 runs, obliterating the Orioles, 13-2.

19. With five LA Angels poised, and crowding the grass, Matt Olson’s extra innings Grand Slam walk-off moonshot! I mean C’mon! THIS IS JUST THE FIRST WEEKEND!

20. Snickering while watching the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo share a substantial glob of hand sanitizer with the Brewers’ Orlando Arcia when he reached first base.

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About Jackson Pappin 51 Articles
Jackson Pappin is a freelance writer. A 2018 WSU Edward R. Murrow College of Communication alumni, he writes fiction, journalism, columns, essays and poetry. His work has been published in Anastamos, The Oregonian, The Spokesman Review, The Seattle P.I. Reader Blogs, The Daily Evergreen, The Central Circuit, LandEscapes and at the Spectra Art Gallery. His writing is available at https://jacksonpappin.blogspot.com