Opening Day overreactions (and verdicts)

April 2nd, 2021

We did it again. We screamed at our TV, we pumped our chest in victory and cursed out our closer in defeat. We ceased to be the rational, reasonable human beings we are instructed to be and instead operated on instinct and impractical emotion. 

Yeah, that’s right. We overreacted to Opening Day! Game 1 of 162. Zero-point-six percent of the season. It is our baseball birthright, after all. 

Some of you did a particularly wonderful job fulfilling this dramatic duty via Twitter on Thursday. But while this effort was appreciated, here in the aftermath it is time to soberly assess the situation and determine whether your in-the-moment musings have a shelf life or -- more likely -- an instant expiration date. 

Let’s judge the validity of your Opening Day tweets.

Blue Jays domination in the AL East already beginning? -- @Lenoutoften

Though some of us were beating the drum for the Blue Jays before the Hot Stove season even began (is it an overreaction if you’re not actually reacting to anything?), there’s no getting around the fact that they had a brutal Spring Training. The injury bug bit Kirby Yates, Robbie Ray, Nate Pearson and Thomas Hatch, greatly affecting an already questionable pitching picture, and George Springer was also absent for the opener with an oblique injury. 

So while it’s only one game, beating the Yankees when Gerrit Cole is on the mound at Yankee Stadium (on a day in which the top three in the lineup went 0-for-14 with seven strikeouts, no less) was a really nice achievement. Because of the wild cards in the rotation and the injuries, I’m no longer bullish on the Blue Jays winning the East. But I do still think their lineup can pave over a lot of issues, and -- importantly -- I expect them to leave no stone unturned in the midseason trade market. Domination? No. Contention? Yes. 

Verdict: Obvious exaggeration/overreaction, but wins when Cole starts should count for double. Oh, and speaking of the Blue Jays…

Powder blue jerseys are always a W. So clean -- @a23wood

The Blue Jays broke out a new/old look for Opening Day, and, judging by the majority of tweets on the subject, the light blue unis had heavy support. People loved them.

Sadly, those people are wrong. Powder blues belong on throwback jerseys of the Montreal Expos and Seattle Pilots -- the two teams that launched baseball’s modern powder blue era in 1969 -- and practically nowhere else. If we bring back powder blues as rigid road regalia, we might as well bring back cookie-cutter, multi-use stadiums, AstroTurf and the White Sox shorts. These are fine as a one-off, but not as an 81-off.

Verdict: Road gray all the way! Overreaction.

Congrats Ke’Bryan Hayes on Rookie of the Year. -- @ameershah_7

Slashing .376/.442/.682 in your first 24 big league games -- and then .431/.463/.745 in the following Spring Training -- is a lot to live up to. But Hayes’ towering two-run homer cut through the Wrigley winds to get the Buccos on the board in what turned out to be a 5-3 win over the Cubs.

This 24-year-old kid has it all, even if his Pirates don’t. He can hit for average and power, he has speed and he has an outstanding arm and instincts at the hot corner. A star is born, and he doesn’t have to replicate last year’s slash line to win the 2021 NL Rookie of the Year honor.

Verdict: Not an overreaction. If Hayes isn’t the Rookie of the Year, I’ll eat … a delicious Primanti Bros. sandwich. (Hey, who said losing a bet has to be a bad thing?)

Dodgers World Series hangover? -- @Dodgerfam25  

Let’s state the obvious: You can’t get a hangover from a 60-game season any more than you can get a hangover from drinking near-beer. Stranding 14 runners and losing to objectively one of the worst teams in baseball is certainly not how the Dodgers drew it up. But as evidenced by Cody Bellinger’s single over the wall, baseball -- and Opening Day, in particular -- is bizarre. Doubly so when it’s played at Coors Field. So, whatever. The Padres had a great day, the Dodgers had a terrible day, but it says here that the West is not yet won. 

Verdict: Pass the O’Douls and call it an overreaction.

I don’t want to be premature here, but Dylan Carlson is basically Babe Ruth, LeBron and the reincarnation of King Arthur rolled into one. -- @academic_la

Early offense from lineup linchpins Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt in an 11-6 win over the Reds was nice and all. But if I’m a Cardinals fan, I’d be most excited about Carlson’s three-run dinger off Luis Castillo in the first (and apparently this tweeter agrees). The Cards desperately need offense from their outfield, and last year some fans were down on Carlson after he put up a disappointing .616 OPS in 119 plate appearances.  

But of course, he’s still young. How young? At 22 years, 160 days, he became the youngest Cards player to go deep on Opening Day in 85 years! Though the tweet above is just some fun hyperbole, Carlson definitely has the skills to be an impact player in the box and on the basepaths. 

Verdict: We were with you up until King Arthur, so… overreaction. (But Carlson could challenge Hayes for that Rookie of the Year honor.)

Yelich is shaking off rust. He’ll be back in MVP form. -- @M00se1992

Yelich’s ninth-inning RBI single on a sharp line drive that went off the glove of Twins right fielder Max Kepler keyed a Brew Crew comeback in what turned out to be a 10-inning, 6-5 win. That underscores the notion that a Milwaukee lineup that was rather unimposing in 2020 will look a heck of a lot different if Yelich can reclaim his MVP-caliber numbers of 2018-19.

There’s really no reason to believe Yelich can’t do it. He looked lost at the plate last year, with a greatly inflated strikeout rate, though it's understandable if the absence of in-game video affected him. When Yelich did connect, his hard-hit rate (55.65) remained elite, and his expected weighted on-base average on contact (.486) was also among the best in baseball. In other words, this is still a guy you want up in a situation like we saw in the opener. The man can hit.

Verdict: Yelich was NL MVP in 2018 and finished second in 2019. A disappointing 60-game season shouldn’t change our perception that much. This is not an overreaction.

Tyler Glasnow has to be the early Cy Young favorite. -- @kingofchapter1

Glasnow: Great arm, great hair. He had both of those attributes working for him in holding the Marlins scoreless on one hit, with six strikeouts and no walks over six innings in a 1-0 win. Granted, this was against the Marlins, who, despite last year’s rise to unexpected October glory, do not exactly feature an imposing offense. But the 6/0 strikeout-to-walk ratio was further testament to how far Glasnow has come from the command issues that held him back a bit in his Pittsburgh days.

Now that Glasnow has added to his four-seam/curveball-heavy repertoire with a new slider that can affect hitters’ timing (he threw it 35% of the time Thursday, and it generated a whiff on four of 12 swings), he has a high floor and a seismic ceiling, as long as he stays healthy. Cy Young? Why not?
Verdict: Not really an overreaction, and did we mention the hair??

VINTAGE MIGGY IS BACK FOLKS!!!!!!!!!! -- @benny15910

Here and elsewhere, we spent the preseason period harping on the absurd assemblage of elite young talent in this sport, only to see a near-38-year-old Miguel Cabrera hit the first home run of the season (and slide into second base because he lost sight of the ball in a Detroit snowstorm). Gotta love it. Cabrera’s blast off reigning AL Cy Young winner Shane Bieber got the Tigers going in a 3-2 victory over the Tribe.

After being relegated to DH duties due to knee and back issues the past season and a half, Cabrera slimmed down and showed improved agility this spring. He looks like he’s having fun again. But of course, “vintage Cabrera” -- i.e. one of the best right-handed hitters in the history of the sport -- is an awfully tall order at this stage. Cabrera will hit his 500th home run this year (this one was No. 488), and he’s got an outside shot at 3,000 hits this year, too. So we’ll just take the big moments as they come without asking for a 30-homer, 100-RBI season from the Migster.

Verdict: An understandable overreaction. If Miggy’s happy, we’re happy.

How ‘bout that Phillies bullpen?! -- @PGM__18

When people said, “How ‘bout that Phillies bullpen?” last year, it was not a compliment. It was the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad bullpen from hell. Dave Dombrowski took over the front office this winter and dramatically reshaped the ‘pen without making any top-of-the-market splashes and instead bringing in Archie Bradley, Brandon Kintzler, José Alvarado, Connor Brogdon and Sam Coonrod. It almost doesn’t matter if the bullpen isn’t much better than last year, because, even if it implodes, at least Phillies fans will be watching different people blow games.

But the bullpen didn’t blow Thursday’s game. In fact, 3 1/3 scoreless innings from Bradley, Alvarado, Brogdon and holdover Héctor Neris were the key to a 3-2 win over the Braves. There are actual reasons to believe the Phillies have given Joe Girardi enough weapons to work with here. Even a league-average ‘pen would be a monumental leap forward.

Verdict: After everything they’ve been through, Phillies fans are absolutely allowed to celebrate even this smallest of samples. Not an overreaction.

Go ahead and just give Pablo Sandoval the MVP now. -- @tyvanduyn

No analysis necessary here. It’s a Pandamic.

Buster Posey took 2020 off for family reasons. His first at-bat in 2021 was a home run. Buster Posey is awesome. -- @derekeletich

Facts. And watching Posey and Miggy go deep on the same day gave us some serious 2012 vibes.

Verdict: Every word checks out. Accurate, appropriate reaction.