Stay up to date on all the biggest baseball stories. Sign up here to get this content delivered to your inbox every morning.
Remember the old days when baseball games took… I haven’t done the math yet, but I remember it was like nine hours?
We live in the future now, and the future is scary and beautiful. I’m Levi Weaver, here with Ken Rosenthal. Welcome!
Everything is going according to plan
It’s a small sample size, but as long as we’re comparing it to another small sample size, that’s fine, right? Here are some side-by-side comparisons after a day of gaming:
Opening Day average playing time
Stolen base attempts per game
A problem with small sample sizes: the combination 3. 4 hits in the Blue Jays’ 10-9 win over the Cardinals (or Phillies) three 3s against the Rangers) can unbalance the averages, so take all of this with a grain of salt. But the doubles average went from 2.86 to 2.8, triples from .13 to .40 (shift effect?) and home runs from 2.13 to 1.4 per game.
You guessed where this is going: MLB games averaged 9.26 Opening Day singles in 2022, and that number rose to 12.2 in 2023.
More runners on first + throwing limits + bigger bases = more than double the number of steal attempts.
In short, it’s not less baseball, it’s more. It’s just less dead time between pitches. This year’s game, frankly, is eminently easier to watch.
In the first plate appearance of his major league career, Yankees rookie shortstop Anthony Volpe impressed one of the best starting pitchers in the game, Giants right-hander Logan Webb.
It wasn’t just that Volpe calmed his nerves enough to go for a walk on what he would later say was probably the most fun of his life. But look how close webb’s pitches were to the strike zone.
All four balls were on the outer edge. This was a called strike. But Volpe did not pursue. “I’m not saying it’s going to be Juan Soto,” Webb said afterwards. “But he’s going to draw his walks.” (Volpe walked nine times and had one .415 OBP in spring training.)
Another note from the Giants-Yankees opener: Giants left-handed reliever Taylor Rogers, who joined the team on a three-year, $33 million free agent deal this offseason, said he developed a new pitch , a chopped fastball… the last 10 days of spring training!
Rogers said he wanted a third pitch to accompany his fastball and slider, and added the cutter after working with Giants director of pitching Brian Bannister and assistant pitching coach JP Martinez.
“There’s no better time to create a pitch than 10 days before the season,” Rogers said.
you do not have feel sorry for the Mets, but… you could.
After owner Steve Cohen spent roughly all of New Zealand’s GDP in free agents this offseason, Edwin Diaz and Jose Quintana suffered injuries this spring, and now Justin Verlander is starting the season on the disabled list with a minor strain in the shoulder.
Verlander insists it’s not a big deal, but there’s a bit of irony in the Mets letting Jacob deGrom leave, based at least in part on injury risk, and then hiring Verlander (who’s 40) to replace him. in rotation.
“He’s the rare type of pitcher where age doesn’t matter anymore,” an anonymous scout said of Verlander in November.
Not everything is lost. Mets co-ace Max Scherzer pitched six innings, allowed three runs and two walks, and struck out six in the Mets’ 5-3 win in their opener against the Marlins.
Verlander wasn’t the only big-name pitcher to make it to the IL in the NL East, by the way. Max Fried was pulled from the Braves’ first game with a hamstring problem.
We gain our freedom when we learn…
In 2018, I spoke with Rob Manfred about how minor leaguers were (not) paid. He responded to one of my questions by telling me (a former touring musician) how musicians are paid (was not exact).
In the five years since then, a number of factors have changed. Thanks in part to the willingness of minor leaguers to speak out about their working conditions, public sentiment toward their plight has changed: Many are paid well below the poverty line.
Also, there have been legal ramifications. The “Senne” lawsuit last year awarded $185 million in damages to minor leaguers, and last year, rumors began in Washington DC about the possible removal of MLB’s antitrust exemption if they didn’t change something; in fact, it’s not off the table yet.
Add to that the willingness of the MLBPA late last summer to change course and organize minor leaguers.
Frankly, it was about time. No, the 33-year-old minor leaguer who serves as practice fodder for the up-and-coming prospect doesn’t deserve to be paid seven figures. But no one who works for a multi-billion dollar industry deserves to sleep six in a room and not get paid in full for spring training.
For all the details on the minor league CBA, here’s Evan Drellich. We’ll bring you any developments on this as they come along.
Update: Minor league players have voted to ratify the CBA.
Handshakes and high fives
Aaron Judge hit a home run in the first game, because of course he did.
Surprise: Adam Wainwright sang the national anthem. Not really. But he’s not the first pitcher to do it: Martín Pérez sang the Venezuelan anthem before a WBC warm-up game earlier this month.
Rockies closer Daniel Bard is starting the season on the disabled list due to anxiety. It’s not the first time he’s traversed the wild: this is his backstory, from a few years ago.
Nick Groke rounds up the biggest WBC stories now that we’ve had time to digest them a bit.
DeGrom’s first start wasn’t dominant, but the Rangers got the win and are above .500 for the first time since Aug. 15, 2020, when they were 10-9.
Cue Tungsten Arm O’Doyle’s tweets: Shohei Ohtani struck out 10 and allowed no runs on two hits, as the Angels lost to the A’s, 2-1
In addition to the Cardinals/Blue Jays, the Orioles and Red Sox also had a wild one to start the season. We’ve got everything from the Red Sox setting a record for most Opening Day walks, to booing at Fenway on Opening Day (in the fourth inning), to the Orioles stealing five bases, to a late Boston comeback that fell short: the Orioles won 10-9.
Oh, right, and there was Adley Rutschman, who homered in his first at-bat and became the first…uhhh…formerexcuse me?? First catcher in MLB history with that?
YO… In fact I doubt it. Opening day nerves? Stomach problems? Seems like it would be quite a norm – OHHHH. FIVE STRIKES. I understand. Graphic design is my passion.
The String Playlist
Every day, for fun, I like to use song lyrics for the subtitles. At the end of each week, I’ll leave you a playlist with all the songs I used. This week’s playlist is shorter than usual, because we only had two days, but most Fridays, you’ll have a playlist of about 15 songs waiting for you in this space. Here’s this week’s:
(Shohei Ohtani top photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)