Ratings and Recommendations

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Opening Day: Let the season grind begin

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Opening night in Philly with the Braves in town was about returning to that joyful place-the yard. In the end, those who work in the game had better be fans, or the grind that is a season gets old real quick.

Charlie Manuel spent volumes of words talking about the Philly line-up and how to move the lefties in it around to make it harder late in games to pitch from the pen against his club.

Ultimately, Manuel said he wants games to be decided before opponents go to the pen. So, the best line-up to get that done is his focus.

Ryan Howard and I walk to the field. He is loose and ready, just having done a complicated hand to hand, elbow to elbow high five routine with a young fan in the dressing room.

"People say spring was long," he says, I didn't think it was so bad. I was down there in January anyway." He was playing ball. It was all just fine.

Shane Victorino is all smiles anticipating the raising of the World Series banner and looking forward to the ring ceremony on Wednesday.

"I want my parents to be the first to see the ring," he says. "They were always there for me. Those are the kind of people I will be thinking of when I get the ring."

On the other side of the field, Bobby Cox is ready for his 24th year on the bench for the Braves.

"You live your whole life to get to the playoffs and the World Series," says Cox. "No, I'm not tired of this at all."

Cox lights up talking about two kids, both 19, who were in camp. "They were with us the whole way," says Cox admiringly. "They are really going to be something."

That is what makes the game for him: The wins and the kids who become part of his baseball family.

Somehow Maglio Ordonez of the White Sox comes into the conversation.

Cox marvels at the swing. "Man, does he ever stay on the ball," he says. "They should video that swing and send it to all the kids who are playing the game."

"It's a grind," says Cox of the season, and he can't want to grind out another one.

Chipper Jones has the press gathered around his locker. He leans on the stall and answers questions slowly and smiling.

"I don't have one butterfly," Jones says in response to a question as to whether he is nervous for the first game.

He realizes that may sound a bit flaunty, so he immediately says, "This is number one of 162. I try to tell the younger players not to put too much stake into one game. We will be back here Tuesday to play again and again after that."

Jones thinks aloud. "Sure you want to win every game, but the highs and lows have to be evened out. Win or lose you are going to be coming back again."

"I'm ready, "says Jones. "I'm confident. I'm prepared." He says that humbly, a veteran trying to set an example.

"A good start is important," says Jones. "It's good for the psyche of the young players. You may not win anything early, but you sure can get yourself in a hole early."

When asked if he thinks about how many times he's answered these opening day questions, he laughs. "I guess that makes me a grizzled old ….. Go ahead; see if you can print that."

He has the best opening line so far this year. When asked by the Atlanta Constitution about changing his locker location in the Atlanta clubhouse that placed him closer to the bathroom, Jones, 37, said, "As you get older, you need that."

Braves 4 Philadelphia 1. Let the grind begin.

Powered By WizardRSS.com | Full Text RSS Feed | Amazon Plugin | Hud Settlement Statement


Post a Comment