Happy New Year! We have a decent day (could be sunny), an unconventional lineup and two teams at 0-0 as the 2017 season kicks off at Target Field.
Regardless of how the Twins are doing, Opening Day is still a special event in these parts. I was on KFAN live from Brothers Bar and Grill, and everyone is just happy that baseball is here. There's a buzz around downtown. Royals fans are being booed. It's a good atmosphere.
If there was ever a day for skipping school, Opening Day is it. Some readers have blasted that opinion in the past, but I don't care. I was in high school in 1981 when I was called to the principal's office. My father was there, explaining that there was was a family emergency and I needed to come home. We're in the car headed out of the parking lot and I'm asking, "What's wrong? Is Mom O.K.? Is the house on fire?" My father throws two White Sox tickets into my lap and says, "The emergency is that we have to hurry up and get to the ballpark."
It was Carlton Fisk's first home game with the White Sox after leaving Boston. Fisk hit a grand slam off of Pete Vukovich. The White Sox won 9-3.
Just called up the boxscore from that game, and I realized that it was the first time I saw Paul Molitor play in person. He led off for the Brewers that day, going 2-for-5.
26 36 years later, and I'm looking at Molitor's Opening Day lineup against the Royals. Brian Dozier is leading off because he likes to and there's a lefty on the mound. Byron Buxton is batting third. Joe Mauer - Mauer! - is batting cleanup. It's a configuration that will rankle some folks.
Mauer is batting cleanup for the first time since April 30, 2006.
Jason Castro batting sixth is a surprise.
It looks like Molitor has bunched his best production/on base percentage guys at the top of the lineup. With Polanco, Kepler and Rosario, he has three guys who can run as links to Dozier and his power.
Also, there are many folks in town for Rick Stelmaszek throwing out the first pitch. Ron Gardenhire, A. J. Pierzynski and Justin Morneau all flew in for the event. Torii Hunter and La Troy Hawkins - hired as special assistants - also are here because of Stelly.
That's it for now. Enjoy this special day!!!
Alex Gordon, LF
Mike Moustakas, 3B
Lorenzo Cain, CF
Eric Hosmer, 1B
Salvy Perez, C
Brandon Moss, DH
Paulo Orlando, RF
Alcides Escobar, SS
Raul Mondesi, 2B
Danny Duffy, LHP
Brian Dozier, 2B
Robbie Grossman, DH
Byron Buxton, LF
Joe Mauer, 1B
Miguel Sano, 3B
Jason Castro, C
Jorge Polanco, SS
Max Kepler, RF
Eddie Rosario, LF
Ervin Santana, RHP