Opening Day!

Well, sort of. The season started last week in Japan, and most teams don’t play a game until tomorrow, but tonight belongs to the Nationals and Braves at the opening of their new ballpark. Since I’m still waiting for Rutgers to announce their schedule (and if the rumors are correct, Kansas State also) the OoC Schedule Review will continue to be postponed. So while I enjoy the second half of Kansas-Davidson, let’s talk a little baseball.

  • One of the benefits of starting the season on ESPN is I guess they feel the need to talk you up. Jayson Stark is calling for the Braves to win the World Series. Peter Gammons says they’ll make it there, and several other contributors say the Braves will win the division or wild card.
  • Now I don’t know about all that. I got my copy of this year’s Baseball Prospectus the other day and I can’t say enough about it. What I’ve mainly taken away from the Braves’ section is what I thought anyway, and it’s always nice to have someone confirm your gut feelings with data. Basically, it goes something along the lines of “if the rotation doesn’t implode upon itself like it did last year these Braves have a real shot”. Of course, the top 4 of the rotation looks like it’ll be Hudson, Smoltz, Glavine, and Hampton. Yes, that Hampton. Smoltz and Glavine are old; the former will start the season on the DL, and the latter was horrendous at the end of last year. That said, when Smoltz is healty he should pitch well, which is something I’m not sure we can say about Glavine anymore.
  • That said, something that caught my eye in Stark’s article was that Teixiera represented a 60-run improvement for the Braves last year. That tells not only that Tex is good, but also that Scott Thorman and company were very, very bad at the 3-spot last year.
  • As for the Nationals, the read on them seems to be “going in the right direction”. Of course, BP wrote that before they cut John Patterson. So the Nats opening-day starter will be former-Brave-turned-Dodger-turned-Royal Odalis Perez. The Royals declined their option for him, which should tell you something right there.

Anyway, some thoughts on the NCAA tournament while I’m here:

  • The thing that is annoying me the most is the NCAA’s brilliant plan to continue to have the Sweet 16 and rounds thereafter in football stadiums. This year, they’ve moved the courts to the middle of the field so they can sell more seats in the football seats in the stadium. In a word, it’s stupid. Most of the fans are so far away from the court that I doubt they can really see anything and, worse, it makes the arena really quiet. Take Houston versus Charlotte, for instance. The former was held at the Texans’ stadium, while the latter was held in a basketball arena. Both featured large contingents of fans that were playing in the games. Which was louder? Charlotte, by far, because the games were being played in a dome designed for basketball! Probably a better experience all around for everyone.
  • I’m going to ahead and post this even though there’s less than a minute left, so I just wanted to make sure I mentioned that if Kansas wins it will be the first time 4 #1 seeds have reached the final four.

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