Baseball is back at the corner of Edgar and Dave! The Mariners face off against the Astros with a first pitch at 6:42. Tune in early for the pre-game festivities, including the iconic magenta carpet and Ichiro throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. If his offseason prep is any indication, we’re sure to get a strike.
While Marco had the ball on Opening Day each of the last three years, when your team signs the reigning Cy Young winner, you have to settle for the home opener instead. The man loves a crowd though, so expect him to be amped up. His fastball may even touch 80 mph with the extra adrenaline. Crawford will hit fifth again, Murphy is behind the dish, and Haniger is one homer away from 100 in a Mariners uniform. It wasn’t until I saw the actual lineup that it occurred to me how hilarious it would be if they sat Julio in this game. Can you even imagine?
Concerning the Astros lineup, I’ll quote John from earlier today: “Jake does not let me simply write ‘AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!’ here so I will note what I did in Houston’s season preview a few weeks back: This is a beast of a club, and also the most vulnerable Astros roster in years.” The good news is that Yordan Alvarez is not in the lineup and will apparently be on the IL all weekend in compliance with the health and safety protocols.
It’s also Jackie Robinson Day, commemorating the anniversary of Jackie taking the field for the Dodgers 75 years ago (little known fact: he actually played first base in that game). All players will be wearing #42 in his honor today, a practice famously initiated by Ken Griffey Jr. in 2007.
If you want to keep busy before the game starts, I recommend this Baseball Prospectus piece from Shakeia Taylor on how we can make Jackie Robinson Day better; this New York Times article on the Hall of Fame’s reconsideration of Jackie’s place at the museum; or today’s episode of the Athletic Baseball Show featuring Dave Sims reflecting on Jackie’s life and legacy.
Personally, I’ve been perusing my copy of First Class Citizenship, a collection of Jackie Robinson’s letters, which I believe is out of print. But if you can get your hands on a copy, it’s a great book to keep on an end table so you can flip through it when a game gets boring or when someone in your household is forcing you to watch Survivor (in my household, that person is me). There’s some real gems in there such as this 1958 barnburner to Dwight Eisenhower:
My dear Mr. President,
I was sitting in the audience at the Summit Meeting of Negro Leaders yesterday when you said we must have patience. On hearing you say this, I felt like standing up and saying, “Oh no! Not again.” I respectfully remind you, sir, that we have been the most patient of all people. ... 17 million Negroes cannot do as you suggest and wait for the hearts of men to change.
If you can’t find that book, then I can’t recommend his memoir strongly enough. In I Never Had It Made, you get much more depth to his story than you usually hear, especially as it chronicles his transition from strategically turning the other cheek to making his voice heard.
A story begins with: “‘Mr. Rickey,’ I asked, ‘are you looking for a Negro who is afraid to fight back?’ ... ‘Robinson,’ he said, ‘I’m looking for a ballplayer with guts enough to not fight back.’” We then read of his 1949 season: “Not being able to fight back is a form of severe punishment ... the major victory [now] won ... I could fight back when I wanted.” And upon reflection in his final years, he notes:
One day, twenty years ago, they liked the way I stole home or admired my capacity to be insulted or injured and turn and walk away. For that admiration they have given me, I am supposed henceforth and forevermore to surrender my soul. I am not allowed an opinion. If I become naturally, normally indignant, they describe my mood as one of rage. Look what we did for this guy by admiring him and here’s how he repays us—by thinking he has the right to say something we don’t agree with. I don’t owe any living person my soul, my integrity, my freedom of thought and speech. People who believe they have the right to restrain and repress these freedoms are mentally sick.
He lived a rich and complex life, and it’s good and important that MLB honors his legacy today, making Seattle’s home opener even grander. Batter up!
First pitch: 6:42 pm PT
TV: ROOT Sports, MLB.tv, etc. (Sims and Blow)
Radio: 710 KIRO (Rizzs and Goldy)
Weather: Who cares? We have a roof!