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2016 Major League Baseball Week One - Strange But True Stories

Updated on June 6, 2016

First things first...

Baseball is back! Yes, it has finally arrived, that wonderful, magical, amazing sport loved by millions of people the world over called Major League Baseball. Sunday April 3rd was Opening Day, unless you count Monday April 4th as Opening Day as some stations were calling it. I guess I don't know how a day, the first day of the newly minted baseball season, a day in which several games were played isn't considered Opening Day. I suppose it is because not every team is playing that day. But to me, the first games of the year, whoever is playing, constitutes Opening Day.

Be that as it may, Baseball is back! The Boys of Summer (or at least early Spring) are back on the fields of green kicking dirt, spitting sunflower shells, scratching and spitting and making their presence known here in 2016. Thus far, some strange things have taken place; some wonderful ones have too. Things you never thought you would live to see, some that a few wish had never happened, some that have never happened before, and some a few people wish they never had to witness.

First up, a lot of zeros

I suppose we should talk about something that hasn't happened in many, many years. You know what I'm talking about, don't you? The opening three game set between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres. Dem Bums going up against the poor Padres in their own park in San Diego. Beginning Monday in a 15 to 0 rout in which the Padres scraped up four hits. The next day they were shut out again, this time on only a pair of hits in a 3 to 0 loss. The very next day they rallied for an amazing five hits in another shutout, this time by a score of 7 to 0. So, four, two, and five hits for a three game total of eleven hits. The Dodgers had seventeen hits in the first game of the season alone. That makes twenty-seven straight scoreless innings to start the year. This would continue for another three innings, bringing the total to thirty consecutive innings to start the year before breaking out for six runs Friday night against the Colorado Rockies in a romp of their own in a 13 to 6 win. And speaking of those Rockies...

So, What's The Story?

Who the heck is Trevor Story?!?! Is he Superman, sent down here from a far away planet to crush baseballs into orbit? Did he spring full grown from some Iowa corn Field of Dreams, complete in every way hell bent on destroying baseballs and opposing pitchers alike? Just to let you know, he has joined Mark McGwire, Nelson Cruz, Chris Davis and the Say Hey Kid himself, Willie Mays as the only Major Leaguers to homer in the first four games of a season, and he stands alone at the pinnacle of baseball as the ONLY player EVER to hit home runs in the first four games of a career. After four games he stands at six (6!) home runs! If he keeps this pace up, Barry Bonds will no longer hold the record for home runs in a season as Story is on pace for 243 home runs on the season. Just sayin'...

Jeremy Hazelbaker
Jeremy Hazelbaker | Source

Speaking of Home Runs...

Let's talk about home run power for a moment, shall we? Let's talk about history, home runs, who has the most, who might be the record holder of most pinch hit home runs in a single game. Is it the Cubbies, with their power packed lineup and purportedly younger (hi Jason Heyward!) lineup and deep, deep bench? Nope. Maybe the Dodgers and their deep pockets? Wrong again. Maybe a Yankee team at some point in their storied franchise history? Sorry, three strikes and you're out.

The St. Louis Cardinals. Friday night, April 8th, 2016. The Cardinals made history by not one, not two, but three pinch hit home runs in a 7 to 4 win over the Braves. Never before in the history of Major League history has a team had three pinch hit home runs in a game. NEVER! Hell, this team only had four pinch hit home runs the entire 2015 season!!

Greg Garcia, Jeremy Hazelbaker, and Aledymas Diaz combined to make history this night. It was Diaz' first career home run and it was the game winner. Garcia had his first home run in the majors last year in a pinch hit situation so this was nothing new to him, but Hazelbaker...

Hazelbaker is a career Minor League player in the mold of Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) from the film Bull Durham, or possibly Jake Taylor (Tom Berenger) in Major League. He has played 751 minor league games spanning seven years in which he saw over 3,000 plate appearances; seven years of minor league travel with the Lowell Spinners, Greenville Drive, Salem Red Sox, Portland Sea Dogs, and Pawtucket Red Sox, (as well as spending some time in Mexico and Venezuela) before he was released last year by the Triple A Los Angels Dodgers affiliate. He was offered a contract on May 13, 2015 with the Cardinals who saw something in the man who had 49 career home runs and 157 stolen bases. After hitting .308 at Springfield AA and having a .988 OPS at AAA Memphis then scorching the Spring Training games he earned his way onto the 25 man roster. And here he is, batting .500 in a 3 for 6 effort thus far with 2 home runs already. Way to go Jeremy!!!

So after four games the defending Central Division Champion Cardinals stand at 1 - 3 after a 7 - 4 win in Atlanta Friday night. That is a whole lot better than the first three game the Cardinals played in Pittsburgh where they had 37 strikeouts in 27 innings. Ouch!

Zack Grienke
Zack Grienke | Source

And in the unbelievable column...

Who would have thought that Zack Grienke, he of the $200,000,000 contract would have an ERA of 15.75 after his first game? Four innings, nine hits, seven runs and only two strikeouts in a game against the Rockies is a far cry from his 2015 season when he went 19 - 3 with an ERA of 1.66 and 200 strikeouts. That 1.66 ERA was the lowest in the Major Leagues and the second lowest in a hundred years of Dodgers baseball. Hard to believe...

Grienke has a history of having trouble with depression and such; hope this doesn't kick him into a rut he has trouble getting out of.

On a sad note...

As much as I dislike the Chicago Cubs, I do not wish anyone harm. On Thursday slugger Kyle Schwarber was injured in a collision with teammate Dexter Fowler and tore his ACL; done for the season. The Cubbies were all but handed the World Series Championship Trophy before a single pitch had been thrown in 2016 due to their youth and depth of which Schwarber was a cornerstone. Reportedly they have a younger (hi Jason Heyward!) team and their bench is deep, deep, deep. I suppose we'll see how they handle adversity when a main player is injured early on in the year like my Cardinals experienced last year when Adam Wainwright went down in April, then Matt Holiday was injured and never really recovered and Matt Adams followed soon after. Will they recover? Will they win 100 games like St Louis did? Will they fold? Will they struggle along with Jorge Soler and his defensive liabilities in left field? Will his prodigious power compensate for his failures in the outfield? Time will tell.

There are many more stories from this first week of baseball; these are but a few which caught my eye. It has been a good week, full of strange and wonderful plays, amazing feats of baseball prowess and promises to be an exciting year filled with stories we will tell our children and grandchildren about in the years to come. Welcome back Baseball! We missed you!

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    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 17 months ago from Kaufman, Texas

      CHEERS!

      My love of the game is boundless. I'm just taxed a little right now staying up late to watch those west coast games!!!

      Baseball is one of the greatest things about the USA, and the way we've now got players from all over the world, make it increasingly better.

      We could just write about baseball and never ever run out of great stories to tell!

    • Mr Archer profile image
      Author

      Mr Archer 17 months ago from Missouri

      Wesman Todd Shaw, I think he will be as well; it's just odd to see him hit like that. Hope this finds you well and I am SO glad baseball is back!!

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 17 months ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Zack will be fine, I think. Every pitcher gets bombed sooner or later. I'm totally rooting for Greinke, as I can well relate to his anxiety disorder.