For at least the next couple of weeks this MLB season, it will not get any better than yesterday for me, a San Diego Padre fan living in New Jersey: The Padres beat Houston 4-0 and Jake Peavy was solid on the mound (3-hit shut out, 7 innings) and at the plate (1-for-1, two RBI, and a walk). Tadahito Iguchi debuted at second base with a 3-for-5 night, and SD's 7-8-9 batters carried the order - interesting sign for one baseball's worst offensive teams. But let's face it folks, Opening Day means little more than a new season starting and every team starting fresh (even the San Francisco Giants before Barry Zito's first pitch yesterday). You learn very little about your team from game one whether they won or lost. I'd love to say everything is just fine in San Diego; that Peavy will win the CY Young again and will hold the NL's best batting average of all pitchers; that Iguchi will prove to be a great infield addition; and that the outfield concerns are all taken care of whether it's Jim Edmonds or Scott Hairston in center. But I'm not going to even think of it. There's a lot of baseball to be played and March 31 means very very little to every team yesterday, win, lose, or rain-out (The Yankees will lose tonight, don't worry).
But while waiting to watch the Padres-Astros last night at its 10 pm EST start, I got home from work at around 4 and watched every bit of baseball I could thanks to ESPN, ESPN2, and SNY. Zito looked awful. The Dodgers worry me. And Twins fans have a ton of class in honoring Tori Hunter last night. But the one game that was a barn burner was the Cubs-Brewers game (Brewers 4-3 in 10 innings). AND, it's the one game I believe does tell a lot about these two teams, whether good news or bad. This was the one game yesterday that was absolutely relevant.
The relevant and good news for Chicago fans: Kosuke Fukudome will be a big-time player (3-for-3 with the game-tying 3-run homer in the ninth). The bad news for Chicago fans: Kerry Wood cannot get it done in the bullpen, a bullpen that seemingly can't get the job done either.
The relevant and very bad news for Brewers fans: Eric Gagne is finished as a big-name closer and looks lost on the mound. Wow, never thought it would happen like this.
These are factors from yesterday that I believe will be recurring themes for both teams. So, of course the NL Central will be the worst division in the National League.