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.

Rob Manfred blames Bryce Harper for going unsigned

Bryce Harper
Mark Brown/Getty Images
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Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with the media today. Naturally, he was asked various questions about the landscape of the sport, given that superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned as spring training begins. Per The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli, Manfred said that he thinks the free agent market will begin to move once spring training exhibition games begin. Manfred also said that Harper’s camp suggesting that he wants $400 million back in 2016 was “an impediment” to discussions throughout the offseason.

No word on why Machado is also as yet unsigned, as he did not have a reported $400 million ask.

Manfred’s job is to look out for ownership, so it’s not surprising to see him point the finger at Harper. Consider:

Manfred’s comment comes just months after the Red Sox won 108 regular season games and the World Series with baseball’s largest payroll. And ongoing evidence that there is indeed a positive correlation between dollars spent and team success. We often hear justification for tanking/rebuilding because the Cubs and Astros did it and won championships because of it. When the Red Sox use financial muscle to win a championship, it’s crickets.

Manfred didn’t stop there, however.

An easy way to get baseball’s “glow” back would be for two of the game’s best and most popular players to be in uniform playing games. The first spring training exhibition game will be played on February 22, so it’s not looking like that’s going to happen anytime soon.

Baseball’s “glow” would also come back if more teams were actively trying to win. Instead, one-third of the league is “rebuilding” or otherwise coasting on revenue-sharing. For fans of the Rangers, Orioles, Royals, and Marlins — to name a few — the outcomes of their favorite teams’ seasons have already been decided, so what is there to get excited about?