Reporting Greg Bowman
There’s always something special about opening day in Detroit. The fans who start arriving in the middle of the night for their tailgate parties. The signs and tents popping up all over downtown. The green grass and perfectly groomed field at Comerica Park. The optimism and enthusiasm that the Tigers will win it all. Although this season, their faith is shared by almost all baseball experts who predict that the Tigers will make it to the post-season, if not all the way to the World Series.
Kudos to the Tigers and the Ilitch organization for having Mr. Tiger, Al Kaline throw out the first pitch on Opening Day. It’s hard to believe that Kaline, now in his sixth decade with the Tiger organization, has never had that first game honor before. It was well deserved and long overdue. And thumbs up to the Tigers for their fantastic new scoreboard in left field. It’s got to be the biggest and best in baseball. Unlike other giant screens, the picture was vivid and clear and a joy to watch. It’s a big plus for the ballpark.
Like most fans, I was not happy that Justin Verlander didn’t get credit for the win on opening day, when Jose Valverde blew the save in the 9th inning. Papa Grande had gone a perfect 49 of 49 in save opportunities last season, and he was bound to let one get away eventually. Manager Jim Leyland says he’s glad that streak is over early in the season, so now Valverde can focus on starting a new string of saves this year. And even the ageless Mariano Rivera blows one occasionally, as he did in the Yankees home opener.
How good is Justin Verlander anyway? After winning the MVP and Cy Young last year, Verlander says he can be even better this year. Which seems hard to believe. But after seeing his opening day 8 inning, two hit performance, who knows what he can do for an encore.
I don’t know about you. But I hate having an off day after just one game. It would make more sense to open the season on Friday and leave an open date for Monday in case of a rainout.
How long do you think the Miguel Cabrera experiment will last at third base? He managed to catch a foul popup at third after a little somersault in the dirt. And then he booted the next play to him, later admitting he was scared that he might get hurt again like the ball that broke his orbital bone during spring training. Let’s hope he gets more comfortable at third or Jim Leyland might have to think about moving him to DH or the outfield. It’s a lot to ask of a superstar player and batting champion to move positions to make room for another superstar, Prince Fielder. But it says a lot about how classy Cabrera is for giving it a shot.