Beware, Nationals fans – I am in a bad mood. I am usually a sunny disposition-type of person, but today I’m not, mainly because I got to work early for a meeting that ended up being canceled and no one told me. But that’s neither here nor there – I was in a bad mood to begin with, since Max Scherzer was announced as the starting pitchers for the Washington Nationals on opening day this year.
What’s the big deal – it’s only the first game out of 162 – why does it really matter who pitches on opening day? Well first of all, I paid a pretty penny to be at Nationals Park on opening day, so in a way I’m glad they didn’t select Stephen Strasburg to pitch the first game of the season. However, I thought Jordan Zimmermann was a shoo-in for the position, since he’s the best pitcher in the Nationals’ rotation (in my opinion).
Yes, Max Scherzer signed a gazillion-dollar contract with the Nats this off-season. Yes, he won the Cy Young award in 2013 when he was with the Detroit Tigers. Yes, Scherzer has a lifetime record of 91-50 with a 3.58 ERA – he’s no slacker. But Jordan Zimmermann has been the quiet voice of the Nationals’ pitching staff for the past few years, recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2009 and compiling a respectable 57-40 record with an ERA of 3.24 (slightly lower than Scherzer’s). He pitched a no-hitter in the Nationals’ last game of the regular 2014 season, and pitched 9 2/3 innings in game 2 of the NLDS (which he should have been allowed to complete – I’m still bitter about that one!). What better way to start what promises to be a successful season for the Nationals than by starting their workhorse on the mound?
Zimmermann is not flashy. He was not a #1 draft pick like Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper. He is not known for driving fast cars, ranting tweets, or clubhouse antics. Zimmermann is a quiet and shy midwestern guy who works his ass off and can be counted on every fifth day. He never complains, and is the most dependable pitcher the Nationals have. Yes, Scherzer makes for bigger hype ESPN-wise, but true Nationals fans would rather see a familiar face on the mound than some new guy who still needs to prove himself in the National League. I’m still going to go to the opening day game (since I paid an arm and a leg for good seats), and I’m going to hope that Scherzer doesn’t disappoint, but a part of me is going to wish that I was there watching Zimmermann pitch instead of the new guy.
You know what else disappoints me about opening day? The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown by the new Commissioner of baseball, Rob Manfred. Nothing against the guy (even though he took a job that was clearly meant for me!), but I think the first pitch in our nation’s capital should be thrown by the President of the United States. Regardless of your political views, you have to admit it’s pretty cool to watch POTUS throw out a first pitch. I was there in 2013 when Barack Obama threw a terrible first pitch, but that’s probably the closest I’ll ever be to a US President, so I thought it was cool. It’s no secret that Obama is not a baseball fan, but just like pardoning a turkey at Thanksgiving and having to put up with John Kerry, there are certain things a President must do that he doesn’t like. Throwing out a first pitch on opening day should be one of them, and it’s not as exhausting as putting up with the Secretary of State.
OK, enough ranting for now. It’s time for me to embrace this Scherzer guy, try to get over my dislike of Nationals’ Manager Matt Williams, and get my curly “W” jersey out of the bowels of my closet in preparation for opening day just 12 days away. Let’s hope for a great season, Nats fans – there sure has been a lot of hype to live up to, my friends!