The Reds open up the 2016 season shortly against the Phillies, pitting starter Raisel Iglesias against Jeremy Hellickson. Iglesias getting the start is notable not just because he is Cuban-born, but because he will be only the fifth starter since 2000 to make an Opening Day start within his first 20 games, per MLB’s Stat of the Day account on Twitter. The others: Sonny Gray (2014), Stephen Strasburg (2012), Runelvys Hernandez (2003), and John Lackey (2003).
It’s also notable because Iglesias wasn’t the Reds’ first pick to start on Opening Day. It was supposed to be Anthony DeSclafani, but he suffered a strained oblique and had to be put on the disabled list. DeSclafani is not alone. Fellow starters Homer Bailey (Tommy John surgery), John Lamb (back surgery), Michael Lorenzen (elbow), and John Lamb (back surgery) will also start the season on the DL.
This is not to discredit Iglesias. He is arguably the most talented pitcher the Reds could’ve sent out on Opening Day. The right-hander, in 16 starts and two relief appearances last year, put up a 4.15 ERA with a 104/28 K/BB ratio over 95 1/3 innings. Iglesias particularly began to catch fire in the final two months, compiling a 3.13 ERA in nine starts between the beginning of August and his final start on September 13.
I guess this came out the day he was elected but I missed it somehow: Larry Walker is going to have a Rockies cap on his Fall of Fame plaque.
While it was once solely the choice of the inductee, for the past couple of decades the Hall of Fame has had final say on the caps, though the request of the inductee is noted. This is done to prevent a situation in which a cap truly misrepresents history. This issue arose around the time Wade Boggs was inducted, as he reportedly had a deal with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to pick their cap on his plaque which, to say the least, would’ve been unrepresentative.
There have been some mildly controversial picks in the past, and some guys who would seem to have a clear choice have gone with blank caps to avoid upsetting the fan base of one of his other teams, but Walker’s doesn’t seem all that controversial to me.
Walker played ten years in Colorado to six years in Montreal and two years in St. Louis. His numbers in Colorado were substantial better than in Montreal. His MVP Award, most of his Gold Gloves, most of his All-Star appearances, and all of his black ink with the exception of the NL doubles title in 1994 came with the Rockies too. Walker requested the Rockies cap, noting correctly that he “did more damage” in a Rockies uniform than anyplace else. And, of course, that damage is what got him elected to the Hall of Fame.
Still, I imagine fans of the old Expos will take at least some issue here. Those folks tend to be pretty possessive of their team’s old stars. It’s understandable, I suppose, given that they’ve not gotten any new ones in a decade or two. Add in the fact that Walker played for the 1994 Expos team onto which people love to project things both reasonable and unreasonable, and you can expect that the Expos dead-enders might feel a bit slighted.
Welp, sorry. A Rockies cap is the right choice. And that’s Walker’s cap will feature.