At last, baseball returned to Tropicana Field Monday to the tune of a Rays 9-2 victory over the Blue Jays. One-and-oh, count it.
The offense and pitching that carried the Rays to a franchise best Grapefruit league record made the trip from Port Charlotte in the form of 11 hits, with help from both Evan Longoria and Wil Myers, and seven-and-a-third from David Price, who only allowed two runs on six hits.
In perhaps the oddest play of the game, Wil Myers rounded the bases in the eighth after some atrocious throwing errors by the Blue Jays:
Ole Joe Maddon couldn't have been happier postgame,
"Honestly, I hate to use that it was important to have a game like this," he said, choosing his words carefully. "I just think it validates what we had done [in Spring Training].
"I never try to put any more weight on any particular game ever, especially when you're trying to manage expectations. I don't want our guys to think that way. Even under these moments when there are high expectations, it's great, but I want the guys to go out there and play the game like they're 12 years old and I'll take what happens after that. I do not want the pressure to exceed the pleasure."
And David Price agreed with Maddon, understandably pleased after his first win in three Opening Day starts,
"It feels good to be back here," he said after the game. "Everybody in the clubhouse knows I want to be here, and they want me to be here. This today was the definition of our team."
Price also remarked at how complete this year's squad seems, echoing the sentiments we've heard and felt leading up to yesterday,
"We all talk about it and we sit there and we try to think of an over-glaring weakness," ace pitcher David Price said. "But we don't have - to me or anyone else in here - an over-glaring weakness. ... I think we do have a very solid team. We're all extremely excited. Everybody feels good right now. ... I don't know what our weakness is honestly."
Marc Topkin spoke with Stu Sternberg and Andrew Friedman as well, with both remarking how it seemed as if there were no holes left to fill by the offseason's end. It's good to feel that everyone is feeling really, really good.
ICYMI while at work, school, or if you just want to relive the glory of yesterday's game, scope the first postgame recap of the season. Then, watch a pretty cool video the Tampa Bay Times compiled of the sights and sounds of Opening Day 2014.
The Wall Street Journal did a piece on the "sophisticated science" of defense in today's MLB world, opening with, "To watch the Tampa Bay Rays or the Pittsburgh Pirates play the field these days is to understand the future of baseball."
Grantland held a 2014 shootaround, allowing their savants to discuss whatever they were looking forward to most for the upcoming season. A myriad of insights and tidbits from Ben Lindbergh, Jonah Keri, Michael Baumann and others. Personal favorite highlight came from Corban Goble with "My Presence, Their Presents":
When it comes to finding creative ways to combat pervasive local lack of interest, no MLB franchise does it better than Tampa Bay. And since that whole "winning baseball games" thing doesn't always draw fans to the Trop, the Rays also have a totally bat-shit promotional schedule.
Here are some of the items you can cop if you attend a Rays home games this year: David Price dog tags, which feature his talented French bulldog, Astro (5/25); a toy basketball set featuring Yunel Escobar's likeness miming a shot motion while wearing his glove (7/13); a James Loney grill set (6/8); a Mr. Potato Head designed to look like Joe Maddon (8/2); a Chris Archer Christmas stocking (7/27); a Don Zimmer snow globe (7/25); and this absolutely terrifying DJ Kitty stocking cap (5/10).
Also, if you bought tickets to Coachella, throw those on Craigslist and hit the Trop instead, because this year's postgame concert lineup is off the chain. Weezer, Joan Jett, the O'Jays, and the Wiggles? A little Weez in the Trop? I'm sold.
In short: If you're looking for me this summer, you'll be able to find me at the Trop, strategically sitting in the section with the best odds of receiving the payload from the hot dog gun.
Also on Grantland, Jonah Keri provided his full 2014 season preview, picking the Rays to take the AL East with a 91-71 record, but deeming the Tigers AL Champs and the World Series going to the Dodgers.
And, joke of the day... Really? Really, Yankees fans, really?
Yes. That's a (awful) Yankee (in Anaheim) fan complaining that it's all about the money with Robinson Cano. pic.twitter.com/UZ0nTfXXtW— Jimmy Traina (@JimmyTraina) April 1, 2014
- The Jays not only began the season 0-1, but already lost Jose Reyes to the 15-day DL with a tight left hamstring.
- 10 observations on Opening Day, courtesy of the SweetSpot.
- Dave Cameron noted five things he believes about the 2014 season; the most intriguing? Deeming this year, #YearOfTheSplitter
- Bryce Harper had a scary scene is his first game of the year, taking a shin to the head. He returned to the outfield in the next inning, but geez dude.