Well, what a great way to start the season! Yesterday’s game between the Braves and the Nationals was a cracker; a perfect way to launch this new era of baseball in Washington. It had everything you could want in a game: a good pitching duel, a late fight back from the road team followed by a walk-off homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth by the home team. Ryan Zimmerman lived up to his billing as the face of the franchise and I’m sure it will be far from the last time that he sends the Nats’ fans home happy.
George Bush got a mixed reaction from the crowd (to put it mildly), but his ceremonial first pitch was a good effort (if a little high!) and you have to give him a certain amount of credit for agreeing to join Jon and Joe in the commentary booth. I can’t imagine Gordon Brown chatting to David Gower and his Sky colleagues during a test match at Lords, for example. Not that cricket fans would want to hear Brown’s voice, admittedly, but it’s the thought that counts.
The exciting game was also a fitting way to mark the arrival of a new season on Five. Johnny and Josh were straight back into the swing of things as if they had never been away. Erik’s Spring Training segments are always a lot of fun and it will be interesting to see what answers (and quizzical looks) he gets to his questions from the various Major Leaguers who spared a bit of time to talk to their British fans. On that note it was great to hear from Curtis Granderson as well and I’m very pleased that he will be contributing to the show again this season. His contributions last year were much appreciated by the viewers. Having someone of Curtis’s calibre being a part of the show every now and then really adds to the experience and makes you feel that our support for the sport in the U.K. is not going unnoticed.
While it was comforting to see the return of some of the classic features (not least Erik’s pitifully easy In-Game Trivia question!), Phil Jupitus’s new weekly segment looks like it will be a welcome addition to the programme. I started my Book Review section here on BaseballGB as I thought it was an area that could benefit British baseball fans and I’m sure Phil’s ‘Library of Baseball’ pieces will be a good complement to them.
Regardless of the quality of the opening game, it isn’t until the horde of fixtures begin on the following day that you really feel that baseball is back. There are lots of games to choose from today and many of them are being played in the daytime over in the U.S., making them perfect evening viewing/listening for us Brits (including four on NASN). Naturally, there are a lot of top pitching match-ups today, so rather than pick out any in particular, I’ll just list all the games that are being played with their start times in BST.
18.05 – Kansas City @ Detroit, Toronto @ New York Yankees (NASN),
19.10 – Arizona @ Cincinnati
19.20 – Milwaukee @ Chicago Cubs
20.05 – Chicago White Sox @ Cleveland, Tampa Bay @ Baltimore, Washington @ Philadelphia
21.10 – New York Mets @ Florida, San Francisco @ L.A. Dodgers (NASN)
21.15 – Colorado @ St Louis
23.40 – Texas @ Seattle
00.05 – LA Angels @ Minnesota (NASN)
00.10 – Pittsburgh @ Atlanta
03.05 – Houston @ San Diego (NASN)