Thursday may have been the nation-wide Opening Day, with fans celebrating the return of baseball season even if their team wasn't yet playing, but that doesn't make Friday any less of an Opening Day. Anyone who has ever been to their club's Opening Day game knows that. When you're rubbing shoulders with 40,000 other fans who have been waiting all winter for that day, you don't care that some team on the other side of the country happened to play yesterday.
With that continuing spirit of Opening Day, let's get to the trots!
Home Run of the Day: Kila Ka'aihue, Kansas City Royals – 19.53 seconds [video]
It can get really easy sometimes to just throw the night's walkoff blast here as the Home Run of the Day. It's awful hard to have a bigger, more important blast than a walkoff, after all. I try not to be blindly devoted to the walkoff, though. Last night, for example, Toronto's J.P. Arencibia hit two home runs in Toronto's Opening Day game (22.59 and 22.67 seconds) – and he's still a rookie! Another rookie, San Francisco's much-touted Brandon Belt, hit his first career home run down in Dodger Stadium (21.43 seconds). John Buck (21.38 seconds) and Neil Walker (21.97 seconds) both hit Opening Day grand slams as well, while Chicago's Carlos Quentin (24.1 seconds) and Cleveland's Carlos Santana (21.68 seconds) both had their home runs reviewed after hitting bombs to the same part of Progressive Field (they each maintained a steady trot, so their times count).
But, no matter how impressive those shots were, I can't give the Home Run of the Day to anyone other than Kila Ka'aihue. With the Royals tied at one with the Angels after a strong start from Los Angeles' Dan Haren, Kila led off the bottom of the ninth with a huge blast to right-centerfield. The stadium was so loud and raucous that the television camera following him down the third-base line was shaking. He also managed to turn in a great trot time of 19.53 seconds.
Slowest Trot: David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox – 25.82 seconds [video]
If you read the Tater Trot Tracker at all last year, then there's one thing that you know more than anything else: David Ortiz has a very special way of running out his trots. Ten of the fourteen slowest trots of 2010 were at the lumbering feet of Big Papi. So when he hit his first home run of the year on Opening Day and continued his slow-moving ways so convincingly, I couldn't help but smile. There were a few other 24-second trots on Friday, but only Papi put up anything over 25-seconds, let alone pushing 26-seconds. I can't wait to see what he brings the rest of the season.
Quickest Trot: Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays – 18.7 seconds [video]
There were a number of good, solid quick trots in Friday's games, but the quickest belongs, without a doubt, to the great Tampa Bay Zorilla. His first-pitch, rightfield blast was the only trot to clock in at in the 18-second range. The next quickest trot also came from the state of Florida, where the Marlins' Logan Morrison scooted around the base in 19.09 seconds.