Finally, A Beginning

March 31

Remember in elementary school when you took a test and the teacher said, “Ready? Begin.” I always felt “Ready?” was a rhetorical question. Teacher didn’t care if you were ready, you were gonna begin.

When it comes to Opening Day, there is absolutely no question whatsoever that we’re ready. Been ready for some time. Is it my imagination, or was this Spring Training the longest in recorded history ?

It started on February 25, and even with an early beginning to the regular season, it has been a long wait for March 31st. The season is moved up to avoid another November World Series, but what does MLB do ? Hold openers in New York, Philadelphia, and Cleveland with a snowstorm moving in.

The Giants and Dodgers won’t have that problem. Temperatures in the 80’s are forecast for Los Angeles. Good flying weather for the biplanes that will taunt Dodger fans during the game.

The Giants’ trip to LA got off to a rocky start, at least for Barry Zito, who owns a home in the Hollywood Hills. His car was broadsided in a crash last night, as someone ran a red light.

Of course, it’s a crash that can happen anywhere, but especially in L.A. I’m from there, I know. You know the movie “Idiocracy?” Parts of the Southland come close.

On a more serious note, the Zito accident reminded me of the terrible crash that took the life of Angels’ rookie pitcher Nick Adenhart a couple of years ago. In both cases, someone ran a red light, although there’s no indication alcohol was a factor for the motorist who hit Zito.

Fortunately, Zito escaped without major injury, except for maybe a sore neck. He says he’s okay but we’ll see how he feels when he makes his start in a few days. If nothing else, he has to be a bit rattled right now.

Zito has had many ups and downs in the last six months. Flaming out with a chance to clinch the division on the final Saturday of the season, and being left off the postseason roster as the Giants won it all. Dealing with his dad’s illness, then getting a cattle prod in the back via a newspaper article indicating the Giants might unload him. Now this.

Zito is unflappable, almost languid at times, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he lets this roll off his back. However, I believe he is a huge key for 2011.

If Zito can equal last year’s stellar beginning, it takes a lot of pressure off the rest of the starting rotation, and to some extent the bullpen. Even a .500 season would be a tremendous upgrade. That’s what it has come to for the Giants.

I look for the Giants to win the National League West with a challenge from the Rockies. The Dodgers and Padres won’t be as bad as everyone thinks, and the Diamondbacks should be better if only because of subtraction. They got rid of a 200-strikeout, .190 hitting third baseman, and revamped a historically-bad bullpen.

Beyond that, who knows ? Injuries could happen to anyone, but assuming everyone’s healthy, I think the Giants will meet either the Braves or Phillies in the NLCS, and Red Sox in the World Series.

That would be a hell of a cherry atop this sundae.

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4 Responses to “Finally, A Beginning”

  1. swarfe Says:

    Your take on Belt? I think that given his relative age and experience, keeping Belt might be to the long-term detriment. Perhaps, I’ve been scared away from “rushing” younger players to the major leagues. That said, what are the odds that Belt plays regularly, especially when Ross returns? If he does struggle early, is he sent down? Does Belt become Bowker 2.0?

    I suppose this is the risk that goes with any prospect. But, still, Belt lacks of AAA time, and his quick ascension in the Giants ranks, is somewhat alarming. I suppose we’ll see.

    • raywood Says:

      Rare for the Giants to give starting job to rookie. Everything I have seen in person and heard from organization is he will be a star. Much better approach than Bowker with a bit less power. Don’t read too much into first couple weeks — remember Posey did little on Sept 09 callup

      • ScottBASP Says:

        Well, so far all has been well. Of course, they haven’t won a game yet. Otherwise, Belt has been very impressive. Did you read Schulman’s break down of the Russ Ortiz and Michael Tucker transactions relative to the Belt decision? Sabean deserves much more credit than he gets (though I suppose he is getting it now).

  2. Greg Olzack Says:

    Let the games begin!!

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