Yesterday, I extolled the virtues of Opening Day, which is somewhat akin to a civic holiday. But I’ve always had a special place in my heart for the second game of the year, too. To me, this is when baseball really gets down to the nitty gritty. Here are some virtues of Game 2*:
*(I promise I won’t have 162 of these. I will not have an ode to Game 13, or a paean to the 66th game. This is the finale of this series).
1, The dilettantes and gawkers are gone, and now the hard-core fans take over. In some cities, that will turn out to be about 12,612 in attendance- but those 12,612 are the ones that care the most.
2, The routines that drive baseball really begin on Day 2. Everything is kind of off on Opening Day, because of the pageantry and ceremonies. But all the clubhouse rituals and essential (but often dreary) side work that sustain a team for the long haul start to take hold on the second day.
3, The depth of the rotation begins to reveal itself. Most teams have at least one top-flight pitcher to send to the mound on Opening Day. But on the second day, and third, and fourth, and fifth, we start to see which teams have the pitching depth that will carry them, or the holes that will sink them.
4,The stats slowly begin to take shape and meaning. The “small-sample size” proviso will hold for weeks, of course, but the .800 batting averages and 22.31 ERAs begin the trend to normalcy as the games pile up.
5, We can start to get a better idea of what might be a trend, and what was a one-day aberration. Again, it’s still way too early to draw definitive conclusions, but we can get an outline of what sort of team we’re dealing with.
6, There’s a box score on the second day of the season. One of my great joys in life is poring over the box scores in the newspaper. On-line doesn’t count, either. I’m a dinosaur (and yes, a newspaper man), but to me, it’s not quite the same box-score experience when you’re perusing it electronically. Got to be hunched over a newspaper. With one game already in the book, that game can be relived and analyzed via the agate type while waiting for Game 2.
As I’m going to do right now.