Cheers and Jeers for the Chicago Cubs, and Other Opening Day Notables

Damen JacksonCorrespondent IApril 6, 2010

CHICAGO - AUGUST 30: Carlos Zambrano #38 of the Chicago Cubs pitches against the New York Mets on August 30, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Mets defeated the Cubs 4-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Filed:April 5th, 2010

What were you expecting exactly? Consider me fairly non non-plussed about the Cubs 2010 opener, a 16-5 shellacking by the Atlanta Braves down at Turner Field, for a couple of different reasons actually.

Carlos Zambrano, although the 1 1/3 innings was by far his worst Opening Day start, tends to come out of the box with these sorts of appearances. Personally, I always thought he's a bit too amped, and his high fastballs yesterday didn't do anything to change that opinion. Here's to hoping that sinker—consistently about six inches too high on Monday, as were all his other pitches—gets a bit better as the season moves along, or the Cubs are in a world of trouble.

But the main reason is that this is pretty much about what I expected to see more often than not. Now, you can look at the errors committed, and say that those sorts of things happen, particularly on the Zambrano throw to third that allowed Martin Prado to score. And it does.

But what really grabs you are the bloop hits that fell in the first, between your defensively-challenged infielders, and a center fielder in Marlon Byrd who appeared hesitant to make a call. It's not so much the stuff in the boxscore, but the little things like that which often come back to bite teams. And it did.

Couple that with terrible relief outing from both Jeff Samardzija and Justin Berg, taking what was at least a semi-competitive game and turning it into a blowout, and you've got the formula for 2010 pretty much down. Get used to it, Cubs fans.

All that said, cheers to Marlon Byrd, who opened the season with a three-run homer, and did about as well as you could hope for covering a more spacious ballpark.

Jeers to Samardzija. Your situation just gets more and more curious.

Around baseball, cheers to Tim Lincecum (seven shutout innings) and Roy Halladay (7.0 innings, 1 ER, 9Ks). Watching these two compete for the NL Cy Young award is sure to be one of the highlights of this season.

Cheers to Albert Pujols, with two homers in the Cardinals win over the Reds. Cardinals fan or not, there's no denying that the man is simply a treat to baseball.

Jeers to ESPN, for pre-empting a portion of the Cardinals - Reds game with a simulcast of the Tiger Woods press conference. Yes, the conference that was being held on the first day of the Masters. Yes, the same one already being shown live on at least two other ESPN properties at the time. I'd love to know what MLB thinks of having one of their marquee events (Opening Day) pre-empted in this manner.

You overhype the (non)news with a media blitz, then use the blitz to give your innumerable pundits easy fodder for the next week. It's simply too damn self-indulgent, even for ESPN.

Well, baseball is back in season. There's always tomorrow to do better.