CHICAGO -- Ron Gardenhire was waving a laminated card in his office this afternoon, a handy guide provided by MLB to remind each manager of the basics of the new replay rules. On one side are the basic procedures, on the other is a menu-style list of plays that can and cannot be challenged. Gardenhire joked that he looks like a football coach with a play list.
Will he take that card with him on the field? "I wish I could," Gardenhire joked. Pointing at it like he's ordering dinner, he said, "Yes, I'd like to challenge this one and this one, please."
The Hawkeye system that baseball has installed for both teams looks impressive in the back of the clubhouse, with two high-def screens (about 25-inch diameter, they're not huge) and eight camera angles visible on each. The system has features like a five-second-delay view, so if you see a close call live, you can see it again seconds later without cuing it up. There's a mouse to select the various views, and a keyboard to run each one back and forth as many times as you like.
It's an impressive system, but a little overwhelming at first glance. And considering that Sean Harlin, the Twins' director of major league video, has been given only minimal training with the system -- a demonstration, but not much hands-on time -- it's a lot to ask for everyone to be up to speed from Day 1.
A couple of problems: The screens are at eye level when you stand, but the chair provided is normal height, so you sit several feet below the screen. The White Sox were trying to scrounge up a bar stool for Harlin.
Much worse: While Harlin was practicing with the system, it twice blew a fuse, knocking it out of action for at least a half-hour. "Sean's having a heart attack," Gardenhire said. Technicians were trying to figure out the problem, but it definitely added to the stress level.
But only a little. It's hard to get too worked up about much on Opening Day, when everyone is optimistic and excited. It was fun to talk to Chris Colabello about his first big-league Opening Day, something he's dreamed about for years. He won a job, is in the starting lineup today as the designated hitter, and will even be wearing the number he always wanted, having switched to No. 20 after wearing 55 last year.
It's a beautiful 65-degree day in Chicago, sunny and windy. It's not supposed to stay that way all week, but it's a pretty great way to open the season.
One guy who's not here is having an even better day: Pitcher Brian Duensing, whose wife Lisa gave birth to the couple's second child this morning. Boston Matthew Duensing was born at 9:19 a.m. this morning in Omaha.
Here are the lineups for the first of 162 games:
De Aza LF