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Opening With A Bang!


March 30, 2018 - 12:10 pm

The 2018 Major League Baseball season opened with a bang. Literally. Chicago Cub Ian Happ continued the work that Derek Jeter started in the offseason and crushed the Miami Marlins. He dug in, saw the first pitch of the season, and did this to it 

First batter of the season. First pitch of the season. First home run of the season. Jeter took a wrecking ball to the Marlins in the winter and Happ took a bat to them yesterday. And he wasn’t the only guy making history at the plate yesterday.

There was World Series MVP George Springer, picking right up where he left off in the postseason, by leading off the new season with a home run of his own.

First leadoff home run for a defending world series champion and Springer becomes the first to hit leadoff home runs on Opening Day in consecutive seasons.

And then you had Shohei Ohtani singling in his first major league at-bat yesterday. 

But even that wasn’t the biggest story in baseball. The biggest story of the offseason continued to be the biggest story of yesterday: Giancarlo Stanton. He has been the talk of baseball for months. First it was the arrival in New York and then it was how would he adjust to life in New York and being a Yankee. Plenty of great players arrive in New York, embrace the pressure, and then get crushed by the pressure. So how would Stanton respond? Well, if his first at-bat is anything to go by, pretty well. Pretty, freaking well.

Second pitch as a Yankee, first home run as a Yankee. 426 feet later, it landed. And if you seamheads really want to get into it, the exit velocity of 117.3 miles per hour was the fastest ever recorded at Rogers Centre and it was the hardest hit opposite field homer since Statcast started tracking. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

And then he followed that up in the fifth with an RBI double. 

And then chased that with this in the ninth. 

434 feet. 3 for 5, 3 runs, 4 RBI and 60 feet of homer in his first official game as a Yankee. And his teammates seemed to enjoy it. Aaron Judge: "Just wow. It was impressive to see that first-hand, and to see his approach. To square one up like that, it's just fun to watch."

Dellin Betances: "I've never seen a debut like that. Those balls were hit out in less than two seconds. The guy just has massive pop."

What did Stanton make of it? “That was cool, man. I tried to be as calm as possible coming up and the anticipation was big for me but I was able to settle it down and understand that it’s just a game, even though it’s big-time, Opening Day, my first one as a Yankee. I was able to calm it down.”

Any other thoughts? "It's an interesting feeling. Similar to my first [homer] ever. It was my first Opening Day here, so everything felt new. The newness of it felt a lot like my first one."

I dig that. He hits nearly three football fields of home runs and describes it as “cool, man” and “an interesting feeling.” It’s just one game and it would be foolish to make long-term declarations about how he’ll fit in New York based on just nine innings, but based on those nine innings, Stanton is going to be just fine. If he’s hitting like that and reacting like that, then it says here he's got this. 

Of course there are going to be slumps and pressure will come with that, but if his response to a pair of blasts on his debut as a Yankee was that it was “cool” and “interesting,” that’s a hint he’ll be able to handle the pressure of New York just fine. Not everyone can. Plenty thought they could, and it crushed them. And New York and the media there pride themselves on crushing lesser dudes. But they’re not going to get this cat. He’s been through much worse. He played the Marlins. That’s worse than anything New York or any other city, fan base or media can throw at him. 

Now it’s just a matter of whether or not Yankee fans will be able to stay in their shoes. I doubt Yankee fan  thinking it was “cool” and “interesting.” Hell, Yankee fan’s already planning World Series parade routes and measuring their fingers for ring 28. 

Look, this dude is a savage. That’s not exactly breaking news. But even of this dude, to see him put that type of laser show, in his Yankee debut, opening, on the road, was unbelievable. I said before the game, it wouldn’t take even ten minutes for one of the Yankee mashers to jump ship. But even I wasn’t giving them enough credit. Especially Stanton. Balls in your court, Aaron Judge. If you and Stanton really, are going to go Mantle and Maris this year, let’s see what you got. Oh, and Hawk, you have heard of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris haven’t you? Never mind. I know you haven’t. Just keep being you and putting horrible calls on the airs and getting even worse tattoos.