Why write a running diary of a 10-inning Opening Day thriller featuring Daisuke Matsuzaka's long-awaited return to the Tokyo Dome, when you can write a running diary of the SECOND game of the season ... that includes no special homecomings or actually any historical or extraordinary relevance?
This already sounds like an awful idea.
Whatever. It's baseball, it's 6:00 a.m., let's do this.
Today's matchup showcases two pitchers who couldn't possibly be farther apart on the injury spectrum. For the Red Sox, you got Jon Lester, who has legitimately come all the way back from beating cancer. And for the A's, you got Rich Harden, who seems to tear his rotator cuff every time he goes to pick up the morning paper. Who would you rather have going to battle for you? Hmmm ...we'll put the over/under on how many pitches Harden throws before his arm falls off at 11.
6:03 a.m.: The game hasn't even started, and I just had my first DVR moment. Steve Phillips just announced that over the offseason, Manny Ramirez took up yoga and has started reading "The Secret." This is almost too good. After quickly doing some research on Amazon.com, I have learned that "The Secret" is a new-age self-help book on the law of attraction and how one's positive thoughts are "powerful magnets that attract wealth, health, [and] happiness." I couldn't make this up if I tried. Do I even need to say that Manny is in a contract year? I can't even fathom what a focused, flexible and "positive-thinking" Manny is capable of. Eighty home runs? Three hundred RBIs? Needless to say, if you drafted him pretty much anywhere, you have to be doing cartwheels right now.
6:11 a.m.: Phillips mentions how Manny was named MVP of yesterday's Opening Day game and received a $10,000 check and a color copier (what?) as a reward. When asked what he would do with his money, Manny replied that he would "buy gas." Apparently, Manny has started driving an F-16. Whatever. So Manny strikes out and Harden looks amazing. I'm very excited to count how many times either Phillips or Gary Thorne says, "If Rich Harden can just stay healthy, he might be in store for a monster season."
6:28 a.m.: Missed most of the second inning because of a Dunkin' Donuts run. After ordering my coffee, I was fascinated to learn that Dunkin' now sells pizza. This can't be a good idea. I have to ask, under what circumstance would anyone ever order a pizza from Dunkin' Donuts? Who's the target audience here? Are they really hoping for a customer to just say, "Ah yes, I'd like a medium coffee, one jelly donut, a bran muffin and ohhh, you have pizza??? YES!! FINALLY!! And one pizza." And furthermore, what type of audacity does Dunkin' Donuts have to just lunge into the pizza-selling business? Is Pizza Hut going to start offering a "Buy one large pizza, get a free French cruller" promotion? My head is spinning, and it's not even 6:30.
6:36 a.m.: The A's just took the lead with a Chris Denorfia RBI single. I can't imagine I'll be writing that too many times this season. They'll need a lot more runs to avoid relying on Huston Street after his breakdown on Tuesday. Despite his collapse, I think Huston is still my favorite Major Leaguer who could pass as a city in Texas (not to mention a topographical landmark in Manhattan). He ranks ahead of Austin Kearns, Dallas Braden, Jayson (Ft.) Werth and (San) Antonio Alfonseca.
6:44 a.m.: Rich Harden has five strikeouts through 2 1/3 innings. You know, if he can just stay healthy, he might be in store for a monster season.
6: 51 a.m.: I'm starting to wonder why I thought it would be a good idea to wake up at 6:00 a.m. and write a column. There's about an 83 percent chance that I fall asleep on my keyboard and the rest of this column looks like a Boggle board. And we aren't even midway through the third inning.
6:54 a.m.: Big Papi is up in the top of the third with two men on after consecutive walks issued by Harden, who could be in store for a monster season if he can just stay healthy. Ortiz pops up after Jack Hannahan makes a diving catch to end the half-inning. For some reason, that name sounds strangely familiar. After confusing him for the animal guy (Jack Hanna) who brings llamas, pelicans and other strange beasts with him on the "The Tonight Show," I now realize that he used to be in the Tigers farm system. He looks pretty good and hit a homer yesterday, so I start panicking. Did the Tigers pull another John Smoltz/Francisco Cordero here and let a future star get away? But then I learned that he's just some utility player with a career .267 batting average. If he keeps that up, maybe he really will be the animal guy who brings llamas and pelicans with him on "The Tonight Show" in a few years.
7:08 a.m.: Phillips and Thorne are now interviewing Orestes Destrade, who in addition to looking exactly like your local weatherman, was a career .241 hitter with just 26 homers in four Major League seasons. Of course, he then went on to play five seasons in Japan and pretty much became the Babe Ruth of the Japanese Pacific League, leading the league in homers for three consecutive years. And you were surprised that Kaz Matsui's power never translated in the Majors?
7:11 a.m.: Wow. Speaking of Kaz, the following just scrolled through the BottomLine on ESPN: "Astros 2B Kaz Matsui (surgery to repair anal fissure) expected to miss at least 2 weeks of season." Uhhhhhh ... can I get some kind of warning before something like that scrolls on my TV at 7:11 in the morning? I nearly just spat my coffee all over my French cruller.
7:16 a.m.: Apparently, Orestes Destrade (who is somehow still on my TV) is also the Elvis of the Japanese Pacific League. He just demonstrated this arm motion, fist-pump thingy he used to make after every home run while playing in Japan. It looks like some combination of a Bruce Lee kung fu pose and Ryu from "Street Fighter II" when he unleashes fireballs. I don't think I can describe it better than that.
7:17 a.m.: And just when you think you've seen it all, Thorne has Destrade actually pantomime his entire home run swing, followed by his Bruce Lee/Ryu fireball-arm thingy, only to then point to the camera and shout, "SAYONARA BABY!" I'm beyond words at this point. I don't know if I'm more fascinated by that or by Kaz Matsui's anal fissure. Whatever, Emil Brown just made up for his bush-league baserunning blunder from yesterday by launching a three-run homer off Lester to give the A's a 4-0 lead.
7:23 a.m.: Glad to see Steve Phillips offering pitching tips to Jon Lester and questioning his delivery. I mean, yeah, I totally trust the pitching "expertise" of someone who trades Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano.
7:47 a.m.: I don't know if I am more impressed that Harden has struck out seven through four scoreless innings or that his shoulder is actually still attached to its socket after four innings. We'll call it a pick 'em.
7:51 a.m.: Harden has eight strikeouts after five innings, and I'm starting to think he might be in store for a huge season if he can just stay healthy.
8:04 a.m.: It hasn't even been a full hour, and I am having some serious Orestes Destrade withdrawal. I think I may have Orestes Destrade Disorder. Call it ODD. Symptoms include dressing like a weatherman, taking yourself way too seriously, pantomiming a kung fu-like (kung phooey?) arm motion and randomly pointing to strangers while screaming, "SAYONARA BABY!"
8:11 a.m.: Lester didn't even make it to the fifth inning, and Emil Brown just grounded out to Mike Lowell to end the fifth. Still 4-0 A's. I'd like to nominate Emil Brown for the Shannon Stewart Award for being the player who's dropped and added the most throughout the regular season. Previous winners include Ben Grieve, Jacque Jones, Toby Hall, Rusty Greer and Erubiel Durazo.
8:19 a.m.: Manny's new positive thinking has already paid off. He just went yard off Rich Harden, who now should probably still be in store for a huge season if he can just stay healthy; 4-1 A's. I'm starting to think that Manny will have an Orestes Destrade-in-Japan season this year. Other guys I'm high on? Jeff Francouer, Tim Lincecum, John Maine, Dustin McGowan, Conor Jackson and Lastings Milledge. Players I think will have an Orestes Destrade-in-the-Majors-type season? Joe Crede, Brandon Phillips, Josh Beckett (even pre-injury), Juan Pierre and ... Jack Hannahan.
8:31 a.m.:: Rich Harden's final line: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 9 Ks. You know, if he can just ... never mind.
Alright, I'm getting delirious. This needs to end. I'm cutting this thing short. This was an awful idea. Maybe I'll go get another coffee from Dunkin' Donuts ... and a pizza.