"Sometimes you're flush and sometimes you're bust, and when you're up, it's never as good as it seems, and when you're down, you never think you'll be up again, but life goes on." - Blow
The movie "Blow" is a cautionary tale of the pitfalls of becoming a serious criminal. Johnny Depp played the main character George Jung with a quiet sensitivity that allowed audiences to empathize with someone who should have been jailed (spoiler: And eventually was!). Depp's ability to pull this off in "Blow" and the desire to see him replicate this was the downfall of the movie "Black Mass," but we're getting off-topic now.
One of the best parts of "Blow" is the above quote from the father of Depp's character. It's especially poignant with a new baseball season starting for all fanbases across Major League Baseball. Opening Day provides many things, but the biggest one is hope. Last year is in the past, this year is just getting started.
How Opening Day Defines a Team's MLB Season
Every team starts off on the same foot on Opening Day in MLB. It doesn't matter what you did last season. It doesn't matter what you're expected to do this season. Before that first pitch is thrown across 15 stadiums, everyone is equal.
And that's why it's important to come back to the quote from "Blow." Because Opening Day is going to see half of the fans jubilant over their first victory and the other half starting their seasons off with a big L. The joys of an Opening Day win can't be celebrated too heavily, nor a loss mourned too deeply.
There are three ways your team's Opening Day can go. Let's go through them now.
Things Are Not As Bad As They Seem
No one wants to start their regular season with a zero in the win column, but it's going to happen to 15 teams. As a fan, you can wallow in the despair of that initial defeat, or you can recognize there's a lot more left to play.
The 2003 Florida Marlins lost 8-5 to the Philadelphia Phillies on Opening Day. Their potential ace and former No. 2 overall pick Josh Beckett gave up SEVEN runs (only two were earned) and didn't make it out of the third inning. To add insult to injury, this team would also lose 25-8 to the Boston Red Sox at the season's halfway point.
So how did it all turn out? Did the sky fall in Florida that season?
Marlins played lift Josh Beckett on top after he pitched a complete game shutout to win the 2003 World Series pic.twitter.com/7GRxgDwD5b
— Baseball In Pics (@baseballinpix) March 3, 2022
Nope. One loss at the beginning of the season won't affect the standings too much. The Marlins turned their season around, besting their division rivals in the Braves, Expos and Mets, as well as the same Phillies that beat them on Opening Day. Another turnaround? Josh Beckett. On October 25, Beckett pitched a shutout over the New York Yankees in Game Six of the World Series. The Marlins were World Series Champions and Beckett was named MVP. There's one iconic image from that season and it's Josh Beckett being hoisted upon his teammates' shoulders.
So, keep your chin up if your team drops Game One this season!
Things Are Not As Good As They Seem
An Opening Day victory can feel amazing. It's always good to celebrate an already exciting day by vanquishing your foe, but you can't start designing Division Champs t-shirts and hats.
The 2000 Tampa Bay Devil Rays were a team looking to finally bring the bright "rays" of winning to the Sunshine State. The Rays had lost over 90 games the first two seasons of the franchise and had just seen Hall of Famer Wade Boggs retire. To replace Boggs, Tampa Bay traded for Colorado Rockies' third baseman Vinny Castilla. The team also signed free agent outfielder Greg Vaughn before the 2000 season began.
Adding Castilla and Vaughn to a lineup that already included Fred McGriff and Jose Canseco meant the heart of the order would feature a quartet of players who hit a combined 144 home runs the previous season. This team was ready to mash and to stop losing the majority of their games.
On Opening Day, the Rays demolished the Minnesota Twins 7-0. McGriff had a home run, Canseco had two hits and Vaughn scored a run (Castilla didn't play). For that one day, the Rays were the leaders of the AL East.
What happened? Castilla and Canseco only played 85 and 61 games, respectively. The power group that was supposed to account for nearly 150 home runs only managed 70 (less than half of their 1999 output). The team finished 69-92 and was again at the bottom of the AL East. They also picked Dewon Brazelton No. 3 in the 2001 draft. Brazelton would pitch 250+ innings for Tampa Bay over the next four seasons and was worth -2.2 WAR. Other players the Rays could have picked? Mark Teixeira and David Wright.
So, don't go making any World Series plans if your team gets a win the first time they take the field in the regular season.
Things Are Just What They Seem
The remaining way for your Opening Day to go can be the most exhilarating or the most depressing. With this path your team that wins on Day One will just keep on winning and you're going to get a pleasantly memorable season. Or you drop that first game and the optimism of a new year gets sucked away with each passing day/loss.
The 2013 Boston Red Sox were a positive example of this, beating their dreaded rival New York Yankees 8-2 on Opening Day. The Sox would finish 97-65, winning the AL East and then defeating the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.
On the flip side, the 2011 Boston Red Sox were one of the most disappointing teams in franchise history and it started on Opening Day. Boston had been the winners of the offseason, trading for slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and signing free-agent outfielder Carl Crawford. These additions gave the Red Sox what should have been one of the best lineups in the league.
The Texas Rangers had different plans on Opening Day though. Texas beat Boston 9-5 as the Red Sox bullpen imploded in the bottom of the 8th inning. The Red Sox continued to underwhelm throughout the season despite their talent level but still had a chance to make the playoffs on the final day of the season. Game 162 was almost a mirror image of Game One as the Sox coughed up a lead late which allowed the Tampa Bay Rays to snatch away their playoff spot.
Can Opening Day Define a Team's Upcoming MLB Season?
A Seth Beer #Walkoff homer on National Beer Day?!
Gotta love baseball.
(MLB x @coronaextrausa) pic.twitter.com/VSFCpBm3Ta
— MLB (@MLB) April 8, 2022
MLB Opening Day is one of the most special moments in sports. As a baseball fan, you should enjoy every minute of it, especially coming after an offseason lockout and spring training that was stunted by a work stoppage that came about due to commissioner Rob Manfred's inability to broker a new collective bargaining agreement between MLB owners and the Players Association.
All in all, just don't get too high or too low depending on how your team does in that first game. Because no matter if you see a win or a loss, anything can happen over the next 161 games.
MORE: The 5 Biggest Spenders of the 2022 MLB Offseason Are Hell-Bent on Winning a Title
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