There’s more than a week of games left in the Cactus and Grapefruit leagues, but that’s not stopping the A’s and the Mariners from kicking off the regular season tomorrow. Yup, early, early tomorrow morning — at least on U.S. time — Seattle and Oakland will play a game that counts in the standings and the stat leaderboards. And a second one on Thursday. They’re in Tokyo, of course.
Personally, I don’t mind that the season is starting in Tokyo. A ballpark is a ballpark and even if it’s not in this country, it’s still baseballs thrown in real anger. I do take issue, however, with it starting while there are still tons of meaningless spring training games to be played. It’s just … disorienting.
Opening Day should mark the unequivocal beginning of something. A loud shout that baseball is here and all is, once again, right with the world. It shouldn’t feel like a soft opening at some new restaurant. And that’s kind of how I feel about the A’-s Mariners series.
Yes, I’ll pay attention. And I’ll even write up a couple of And That Happeneds for the games seeing as though they actually count. But don’t expect me to gt all Opening Day-y about it, because it doesn’t feel quite right.
I just saw Jay Jaffe of FanGraphs refer to this as “BryceGhazi” and we’re not gonna top that, so we shouldn’t even try.
The controversy: Bryce Harper, in defeating Kyle Schwarber in the Home Run Derby last night, didn’t follow the rules. Or else his dad, who was pitching to him didn’t. The rule in question is that the pitcher has to wait for the last hit ball to land before delivering the next one. Given that the Derby is a timed event, such a thing matters, of course, because the faster you get pitches the faster you can hit them out of the park. At least if you don’t get too tired first.
Harper’s dad was a bit quick with the final three pitches in the final round, allowing Harper to get to 18, tying Kyle Schwarber before winning it outright with his 30 seconds bonus time. Watch as Harper waves for his dad to deliver the pitch while the last ball is still flying:
I’m not gonna argue that he didn’t do it. I will say, however, that no one should really care. Mostly because it’s the Home Run Derby and it doesn’t matter a bit. Getting mad about this is a half-step removed from getting mad that Blackjack Mulligan used a foreign object to gouge Pedro Morales’ eyes during a house show in 1976. Yes, it’s true, but c’mon, we’re entertaining people here.
I have not seen any suggestion that Kyle Schwarber is upset, but if he later says he is I’ll simultaneously understand yet still roll my eyes. I doubt MLB will do anything here or issue a statement of any kind. If it does, I’ll roll my eyes harder. Because, I repeat: It’s the Home Run Derby.