Monday, April 4, 2016

A Whole New Ballgame

Baseball's Back!

After what seemed like an interminable off-season, major league baseball launched its 2016 season yesterday, and all's right with the world again.

Actually, the world is just as screwed up as ever, but Opening Day gives me an excuse to ignore the usual topics for one more day...

In the first-ever Opening Day game matching the previous season's World Series teams, my beloved Kansas City Royals began the defense of their World Championship by beating the New York Mets 4-3 on ESPN's first Sunday Night Baseball telecast of the new season.

6 innings, 2 hits, 0 runs, 5 strikeouts
Starting pitcher Edison Volquez was lights-out, although his pitch efficiency could have been better. He departed after six strong innings when his pitch count topped 100.

The bullpen, one of the best is baseball history last season, underwent a number of changes during the offseason, and Royals fans are nervous about what that might mean.

RHP Joakim Soria, back on the team for the first time since 2011, struggled to find the strike zone and gave up three runs on three hits and two walks in the 8th. RHP Luke Hochevar got the final out of the inning.

All-Star RHP Wade Davis also struggled a bit in the 9th, but struck out the last two batters he faced and got the save.

3-for-4, 1 RBI
On offense, the Royals looked a lot like last year's model: relentless. They got four runs out of nine hits and three walks. All of the hits were singles, but it proved to be enough.

1B Eric Hosmer had three hits and put the Royals in front early with a first-inning RBI single.

In one of MLB's brilliant scheduling decisions, the Mets and Royals have today off, and will conclude the two-game series with an afternoon game tomorrow.

"The season just started, why do they need a day off already?"

Don't bother trying to make sense of it...

Feast Day

The Annunciation (1610), by Caravaggio
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation, the remembrance of the angel Gabriel's visit to the Blessed Virgin Mary, when she was told of and agreed to accept her role as the Holy Mother of God.

The Annunciation is not a movable feast. It is almost always celebrated on March 25. The only exceptions are if that date falls on a Sunday during Lent, or during Holy Week, or during the octave of Easter (which lasts from Easter Sunday through Divine Mercy Sunday, which was yesterday this year).

This year March 25 was actually Good Friday, so the Annunciation was moved to the first available date, April 4.

The Talking Cure

From the Jeff MacNelly-created comic strip Shoe, which is now produced by Gary Brookins and Jeff's widow Susie. You should read it regularly, as I do.

Until Next Time...

On April 4, 1952 Robert William Gary Moore was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
He took up playing the guitar at age 8, and by the time he was 16 he had moved to Dublin to pursue his interest in a music career. One of his early influences and mentors was British blues-rock legend Peter Green.

Performing professionally as Gary Moore, he forged a successful career both in Irish blues-rock bands like Thin Lizzy and Skid Row and also as a solo artist. He never made much of a mark in the United States, but he was quite popular in Europe, and influenced an entire generation of guitarists with his eclectic tastes and unmistakable style and technique.

Moore died in his sleep on February 6, 2011, while on a vacation in Spain. He was 58. The official cause of death was heart failure brought on by heavy drinking the night
he died.

Following Moore's death my hero Joe Bonamassa, who considered Moore both a friend and a significant influence, added Gary's "Midnight Blues" to his set list for his 2011-12 tour, as a tribute.

I was fortunate enough to see Joe perform live twice on the spring 2012 leg of this tour. "Midnight Blues" was a highlight of both shows, and an enormous crowd favorite as well. Joe's solos on this song were heartfelt and powerful, very much in keeping with Gary's signature style.

Today's send-off is Joe's stunning live performance of the song recorded at the Beacon Theatre in New York City on November 4, 2011, just a few month's after Gary's death. You can tell by Joe's facial expressions and body language that he's pouring his heart and soul into this tribute to his late friend. Enjoy...

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