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Overreacting to Opening Day 2023

That didn’t go great

Picture of the grass behind home plate painted, “Opening Day!” Photo by LG Patterson/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Baseball is back! And now that we are through the euphoria of the first meaningful baseball games of 2023 it’s time to react completely rationally and reasonably to the results thereof. Since many of you think I’m a robot, who is better positioned to do this?

The pitch clock is amazing

In our first regular season game the biggest thing we got to see working was the pitch clock rule change. The final score may have been 2-0 so you might not be surprised that it all ended in two-and-a-half hours. However, you would not be taking into account just how many baserunners the Twins had throughout the day. Baserunners not only mean additional time, but they often can slow the game to a crawl as pitchers try to be extra-perfect. This is especially true when it’s a close game, as Thursday’s affair was.

But the pitch clock eliminated all of that. Things kept moving apace and the moments that could easily have dragged in the past were streamlined into continuing baseball. This game really wasn’t as close as the score indicated and there was no additional tension to be gained from stretching things out; having it all moving briskly turned what could have been a slog into just one of those games where you can easily shake it off and move on.

The young hitters are not going to carry this team

The Royals’ offense was putridly offensive on Thursday. Only a pair of hits and five walks. Two double plays grounded into, both by MJ Melendez who also botched an easy out in right field. Kyle Isbel claimed one of those hits as well as a walk but made an ill-advised dive that gave Byron Buxton a lead-off triple to kick off the fateful sixth inning.

New power threat Franmil Reyes looked pretty bad, too, with his three strikeouts. Hunter Dozier’s “improved swing” meant he only struck out twice without reaching base. At least one of them involved him flailing helplessly and repeatedly at sliders nowhere near the zone. Bobby Witt Jr. was the lone bright spot after Isbel, he led off and walked twice.

Basically, the lineup stunk out loud both in the batter’s box and on defense Thursday. This is our alleged young core, at least some of them, and I’m not sure I want to build a team around any of them.

Everyone was right about the improved bullpen

Many of the writers and bloggers and thinkers and members of the media who cover the Royals have talked about how improved they expect the team’s bullpen to be, this year. Well, they were right! The Royals sent half of their relievers out on Thursday - the worse half, in all likelihood - and they completely shut out the Twins for 3.2 innings while striking out five. Jose Cuas, in particular, looked greatly improved over last season.

It’s still a shame the team decided to walk away from Royals Review-darling Richard Lovelady, but the relievers they’ve kept seem primed to do the job well. And, if everything keeps going this well, maybe they won’t even let Aroldis Chapman take the mound! That would be swell.

Zack Greinke is exactly the same

  • Eccentricities in full display as he calls his own game and throws ridiculous curveballs? Check!
  • Dazzling his opponents and minimizing damage? Check!
  • Completely lacking run support and taking the loss during a well-pitched outing? Double check!

The harping on the existence of the new rules is going to get old fast

Baseball made a decision not to make a big deal out of the pitch clock in-stadium so fans wouldn’t be distracted with it. This is a good choice, honestly, because it’s going to be entirely irrelevant 99% of the time. The TV broadcast team, on the other hand, decided to place it front and center in their graphics. It added very little of importance to the broadcast but absolutely did distract from anything else a viewer might have wanted to pay attention to.

They also scrolled the rule changes in the chyron throughout the game while the announcers made sure to discuss them during every available spare moment. Ultimately, the rules changes had no discernible impact on Thursday’s matchup beyond the shorter run time but you would not have known that based on how the broadcast discussed them.

There is little reason to hope with this team

They’re already tied for the worst record in baseball. Maybe all the losing will convince Sherman to do a more thorough overhaul of the front office and they’ll actually be able to develop the high draft pick they will inevitably earn while playing like they did on Opening Day.