Opening Day 2007: Hour 5

2:00 — Unfortunately, there are only two games going on right now. Or maybe it’s fortunate, so I can follow each one better.
2:06 — So if there exists a baseball-themed ad for, why did I see their basketball-themed ad several times already today during other baseball games?
2:15 — DirecTV is offering a fight on Saturday night on pay-per-view for $24.95, “or,” as the announcer says, “as part of your regular Showtime subscription.” Showtime is $12 per month, with only a one-month-at-a-time commitment.
2:19 — The Aflac trivia question on NESN is “Other than Schilling, Martinez, and Clemens, who was the last Sox pitcher with back-to-back Opening Day starts?” If you have to qualify it that much, perhaps you should find another way to ask the question, or perhaps you should ask a different question.
2:20 — You can tell it’s a little windy in Kansas City when the fountain water gets blown into the shot from the centerfield cameras.

2:23 — Hey, it’s a pinball-themed Pepsi commercial, which makes me want to play pinball more than it makes me want to drink Pepsi.
2:26 — I happen to see on the ESPN ticker that the Tribune Company is going to be getting rid of the Cubs at the end of the season. So let me be the first to predict a World Series victory in 2008. Yes, for the 100th anniversary of the last one.
2:30 — The answer to that trivia question is Dennis Eckersley, who pitched on back-to-back Opening Days in 1982 and 1983 — actually, he was the Opening Day starter from 1979 through 1983.
2:34 — NESN’s score bar is bugging me because the number of outs isn’t right next to the inning count. As far as I’m concerned, the number of outs is very closely related to the inning count. Compare ESPN’s version, which is better.

You can also see the batter a lot better on ESPN, at the cost of the grass looking really, really bright.
2:49 — Eric Byrnes of the Diamondbacks makes a throw from right field with such force that he winds up doing a somersault. It’s very impressive.
2:54 — Apparently, the fountains at Kaufmann Stadium were “worked on” over the winter, so it’s no wonder they’re getting in the way of the camera shots.
2:59 — Southwest Airlines has new nonstop service from Denver to Tampa starting in May. Except they say “Tampa Bay” in the commercial, which would seem to indicate that they’re using a floatplane, given that Tampa Bay is a body of water. I think I complained about this last year, but this time I have a screenshot as evidence.

Thanks, Matt

Matt Morris has reportedly signed a 3-year, $27-million deal with the Giants, reuniting him with his favorite backstop, Mike Matheny, and ending a nine-year career as a Cardinal.

Matt’s been one of my favorite baseball players since his rookie season in 1997, when he went 12-9 with an ERA of 3.19. I learned that season that Matt sometimes rode

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his bicycle to the park on days he wasn’t pitching, and that was all I needed. He was always fun to watch pitch. He comes across as one of those guys who manages to be ultra-competetive without being a prick. His Cardinal career also coincides exactly with the period of my most intense baseball fandom: post-college, with more time on my hands and the Internet to keep me close to my team. He’ll always be one of the faces of that era of baseball to me.

His best moments in a Cardinals uniform, though, came in one week in October of 2001. Twice in six days, he dueled Curt Schilling and the Diamondbacks in the Division Series. The Cards came out on the wrong side both times, as Morris lost the first game 1-0 and took a no-decision after 8 1-run innings in a 2-1 loss in the deciding game five. It was tough, stressful baseball, the kind that makes us ordinary people wonder how anyone can block out the drama long enough to actually participate in it. Up against Schilling at

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his world-beating best, Matt Morris threw a couple of the best games of his life.

He ends his Cardinal career having started the tenth-most games in team history, 209. with a 101-62 record, a 3.61 ERA, and an ERA+ of 119*. He’s fourth in team history in strikeouts, with 1337, and sixth in winning percentage at .620. Oh, and he’s sixth in hit batsmen with 49.

Thanks, Matt. Good luck in San Francisco. I think you’ll like the city and that big ballpark.

*ERA+ is a complex stat designed to show how a pitcher performed relative to other pitchers in the league that year. 100 is average, anything over that is good. Matt’s best was a 166 in his injury-shortened 1998. Last year, an off year for him, he still managed a 104.

It could still happen

Don’t worry, Levi; my co-worker Joe and I spent our lunch break on Tuesday coming up with horrible “curse” scenarios that would cause the Red Sox to lose in spectacular fashion. Among them: Curt Schilling has a perfect game going, until his legs fall off. Also, Tim Wakefield gets hit by a truck.

Original comments…

Jason: Other curse scenarios:

Johnny Damon gets lost during a tour of the Anheuser-Busch brewery.

David Ortiz loses his shirt at one of the local riverboat casinos, so he has to serve as a greeter for the rest of the series until his debt is paid off.

Bill Mueller gets married to Bill Buckner’s daughter, and decides to take her last name.

Manny Ramirez gets stuck atop the Gateway Arch.

Terry Francona turns into Terry Francenstein.

sandor: Of the three post-game Red Sox interviews I’ve seen in this series, all three players spent their first moments behind the mic profusely crediting God for all of their good fortune.

So it wouldn’t seem totally unreasonable to me, if in fact God is responsible for the Sox players’ success, for Him to suddenly… change his mind. Who better to put on a curse than the cursemeister Himself?

Levi: Or, if Satan is responsible for their good fortune, I could see him getting really pissed and pulling the plug.

We’ll know that tonight when Jason Marquis, with a freshly-grown goatee, hits three home runs and throws a two-hit shutout.