Opening Day is finally in the books and the 2013 season is underway! What a long cold (and then warm and then cold again) winter it has been. But spring is finally in the air and baseball is on our doorstep for the next six-plus months. Can't complain about that.
Things are a bit different this year, of course. The Astros kicked off the season Sunday night by hosting their new American League rivals the Texas Rangers. The Reds welcomed the new season on Monday by hosting the Los Angeles Angels in the first-ever Opening Day interleague game. It's all merely decoration, though. Like arguing if Nirvana belongs on the classic rock station alongside Led Zeppelin. It's still the music you want to listen to right now.
At the Tater Trot Tracker, the deep tracks that we want to hear take us on a long, strange trip around the bases. Let's get to the trots!
Home Run of the Day: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers – 19.16 seconds [video]
Here is how Clayton Kershaw's day went on Monday: He was facing off against the defending world champion San Francisco Giants and Matt Cain, the Giants ace who tossed a perfect game last season. Over nine innings, Kershaw struck out seven batters while walking none. Cain might have been even better, striking out eight in only six innings of work, but the Giants replaced him in the seventh. When Kershaw came to bat in the bottom of the eighth, the game was tied. One pitch later, Kershaw sent the ball into the wind and over the center field fence at Dodger Stadium. It was only his second career extra-base hit and first career home run. The Dodgers would tack on three more runs, but that solo blast was all they would really need. Kershaw ended up with the complete game shutout and the game-winning home run. Not a bad day.
Slowest Trot: Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies – 23.1 seconds [video]
The Rockies went deep three times against the Brewers on Monday, including a ninth-inning blast from Dexter Fowler to tie the game up after they squandered the lead that this fifth-inning blast from Gonzalez had given the club. It was the 100th home run of Gonzalez's career. At 23.1 seconds, it wasn't all that long (chances are a 23-second trot will be the slowest of the day maybe once more all season) but it wasn't helped by the small strut Gonzalez took out of the box.
Quickest Trot: Bryce Harper #1, Washington Nationals – 17.61 seconds [video]
Before Clayton Kershaw decided to take everything into his own hands, this home run from Harper seemed liked the obvious choice for Home Run of the Day. On the second pitch of the season to the 20-year old, Harper connected for his first home run, a long fly ball that carried over the right field wall. In typical Harper fashion, he sprinted it out to the tune of 17.61 seconds (so fast, in fact, that the MASN television cameras didn't know quite what to do). With Harper owning the two quickest trots of 2012, though, we know that the trot could have been even faster. Harper's day continued in his second at-bat, when he hit his second home run of the season. At 18.96 seconds, that trot felt considerably slower than the first despite being the second quickest trot of the day.
Considering the red hot spring Bryce Harper had and his amazing performance on Opening Day, we might be in for a special season from the Nationals' phenom.
All of Today's Trots Carlos Gonzalez...23.1 Chris Iannetta....21.53 Dexter Fowler.....21.4 Freddie Freeman...21.2 Dan Uggla.........21.14 Troy Tulowitzki...20.78 Anthony Rizzo.....20.51 Rick Ankiel.......20.45 Yonder Alonso.....20.36 Justin Upton......19.94 Tyler Flowers.....19.93 Chase Utley.......19.63 Norichika Aoki....19.43 Clayton Kershaw...19.16 Bryce Harper #2...18.96 Bryce Harper #1...17.61 Collin Cowgill....n/a