The joy and excitement of Opening Day has come and gone, but the memory remains. The memory is a 5-3 White Sox victory over the Minnesota Twins at US Cellular Field on a partly sunny 62 degree afternoon that saw the predictable and unpredictable. Opening Day is not only about the game, it’s about the celebration of summer approaching, of the start of the greatest sport, and catching up with old friends.
For me personally Opening Day represents a celebration of what should be a National Holiday, Opening Day, and that celebration includes tailgating with friends, running into fellow fans, and cheering the White Sox onto victory at an always packed house. This year my core group of tailgaters were left to our own devices for the tailgate as in past years we’ve been able to tailgate with friends. That saw an overzealous Peter Verniere and cohort Sean Frangella at the ballpark at 10:30am, a bit ridiculous or is it? There were people already set-up and going strong, and because of how early we arrived we were able to drive around and pick our exact lot and spot. After careful reflection on the arriving so early I would do it again next year simply because there were no crowds and no stress getting into the lots. The stress of getting in came later.
The weather was so beautiful that most fans waited until the last possible moment to go into the park, which created a Rush Hour traffic jam that was worse than year’s past. Despite us heading over at ten minutes to 3pm for a 3:10 start we did not get in until the final out of the top of the first. Mind you, we were in Lot C across from the park, so it wasn’t like we had to trek any distance. If there’s a complaint from Opening Day that is the only one.
Once inside we watched the White Sox coast to victory over AL Central foe, the Twins. Even when the game was tied 2-2, you could sense no one was really concerned, since the Sox had already out hit the Twins 8-2 at that point. The predictable moments for the White Sox were from Chris Sale and Adam Dunn; for Sale it was the usual dominating outing with very little drama and for Dunn it was the normal underwhelming performance as he went 0-2 with a walk and a very unique sacrifice fly (I could not locate any video online, but I suggest checking it out in highlights).
The unpredictable came into play when Alejandro DeAza jacked 2 homers including a no doubter in the second that staked the Sox to a 2-0 lead. Moving DeAza to the seven hole might be one of the best moves Ventura and his coaching staff have made. Only time will tell, but DeAza has a fast bat and will not be as worried about working deeper counts without the added pressure of lead-off hitter.
The White Sox youngsters looked solid yesterday, Adam Eaton continued to hit as he did in Spring going 2-4 with a run scored in the lead-off spot, Jose Abreu ripped a double and single going 2-4 with a RBI and run scored, and finally Avisail Garcia had two singles to round out the day. Gordon Beckham replacement, Marcus Semien went 0-4 with a strikeout and a double play in the bottom of the first. Semien looked impatient at the plate and unless there’s a considerable change in his approach over the next week he will definitely be sent back to the minors for more seasoning. Again, it’s only one game and he performed well last September when he was called up and had a heck of a Spring, so we’ll see how it works out.
Watching the Sox play yesterday their roster represented a lot of balance up and down the line-up and the team committed no errors in the field giving Sox fans hope for the upcoming season. This was what I expected out of this team as offensively they have depth and options to work match-ups this season more so than in the past. You have Paul Konerko coming off the bench to face left-handed hitters, you have DeAza platooning in left with Dayan Viciedo, and you have speedy utility man Leury Garcia a future mainstay in the infield. The bullpen also performed well right down Matt Lidstrom notching his first save of 2014.
If the Sox can ride Opening Day momentum to a fast start, they maybe hanging around long enough to make some noise and break some AL Central foe’s hearts before this season is over. Again, it’s one game, but Sox fan’s get to cherish it for an entire day.