Opening Day flag

Looking ahead to Opening Day’s six — what, only six? — games

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Today is the day that everyone learns a little something about their employer. Like, whether he is so unreasonable as to not allow you to blow the day off to watch ballgames. Or, at the very least, if he’s so uptight that he won’t allow you download MLB.tv on the company machine — using the company credit card to pay for it — and watch games as you process those TPS reports. And drink beer.

Hint: if he has a problem with this, update your resume because life is too short.

Or maybe you should just ride it out. There are only six games on this Opening Day. Which I suppose allows for more teams to have the spotlight, but also makes it something less than the glorious orgy that 15 day games would give us. Probably not worth complaining about, I suppose. In the past few years we’ve had only that one night game on Sunday night to kick things off and that felt way weirder than a half dozen day tilts.

Regardless, here is the day’s slate, all times are Eastern time because that’s how we roll in the East Coast-based media:

Tigers at Yankees, 1:05PM, ESPN:  We’ll be live blogging this one here at HBT. At least we hope so. The forecast in the Bronx is calling for rain mixed with snow and temperatures in the low 40s at game time. If this is the junk that came through Ohio yesterday, we may have some problems. I still have snow on my front yard as I type this.  If it does go off, however, we get CC Sabathia vs. Justin Verlander, and that’s pretty friggin’ sweet.

Braves at Nationals, 1:05PM: Derek Lowe vs. Livan Hernandez is somewhat less inspiring a matchup, no?

Brewers at Reds, 2:10PM: There was a time when the Reds always had the first game on Opening Day. That time has passed, sadly. Opening Day is always a hoot in Cincinnati, with parades and stuff. It’s one city where, yes, your boss may very well allow you to blow off work today. At least I hope it’s still that way despite the fact that the scheduling Gods no longer favor it.  To watch in this one: Edinson Volquez. I am concerned about him, frankly. Given the other injuries in the rotation, he is pretty critical to the Reds.

Angels at Royals, 4:10PM: Ladies and gentlemen: Luke Hochevar, Opening Day starter. If I’m a Royals fan I consider heading to Omaha’s Opening Day instead.

Padres at Cardinals, 4:15PM, ESPN: Your second nationally-televised game of the day. The forecast here looks much better: 50 degrees and sunny at game time. Well, it looks better to anyone besides the Padres. Who, if my San Diego-living brother is any judge, will spend all day trying to explain to anyone who will listen that 50 degrees truly is beastly weather.

Giants at Dodgers, 8:00PM, ESPN: A nice one on which to end the day and to take us through the evening. Tim Lincecum vs. Clayton Kershaw is an even better matchup than Verlander vs. Sabathia. Question: why do the World Champs start the season on the road? Seems weak to me.

And because it sounded so nice the last time I said it, let’s say it again: Play ball.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.