We're 1/54th of the way through the season and the Cubs are still in first place. Around the league, the big story has been are the Nationals this good or are the Marlins this bad? Grant Brisbee over at Baseball Nation probably has the best answer to that question, but while many of us spent the off-season wondering how bad the Astros were going to be, they may not even be the worst team in the National League by the time the season is over. (UPDATE: I've just been told the Astros aren't in the National League anymore. When did that happen? Well, learn something new every day.)
- I found this "Tom the Dancing Bug" cartoon this week, and I think that it captures the spirit of opening week. Just cross out "Mets" and write "Cubs" and cross out "Cowgill" and write "DeJesus."
- But getting back to Yu Darvish's near-perfect game against the Astros, Ken Rosenthal thinks that Darvish is just the first pitcher who is going to flirt with perfection against the Astros this season.
- When Jim Deshaies left the Astros broadcast booth, one of the guys they replaced him with was former long-time Astros catcher Alan Ashby. Well, one game into his broadcasting career and he's already issuing one of those "I'm sorry if you were too stupid to understand that what I said is not offensive in any way" apologies. Maybe Ashby will learn to speak English before he broadcasts another game. Like what "apologize" actually means.
- It's the fortieth anniversary of the designated hitter rule. Tim Kurkjian tries to summarize the current state of the rule. Christina Kahrl argues it's time for the National League to adopt the rule.
- This just in: Cliff Lee is good at baseball.
- Jose Bautista went public with his complaints about the state of umpiring. Tom Dakers thinks that Bautista is going to get fewer calls going his way because umpires don't like being criticized. But doesn't that kind of retaliation, even if unintentional, prove Bautista's point? I guess that would be ironic, Alanis.
- The Yankees are hoping to get Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira all back by May 1. Just in time to make room for Robinson Cano and CC Sabathia to go onto the DL.
- The Tigers have re-signed Jose Valverde to a minor league deal. Sometimes they just have to admit that really can't do any better than you.
- Jeff Moore in the Hardball Times thinks the Marlins promotion of Jose Fernandez makes no sense at all, either from a baseball or a business point of view.
- Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus wonders who else might make the jump from Class A to the majors next season. A certain Cubs prospect tops the list.
- David Schoenfield says that Roy Halladay is no longer Roy Halladay. Is that kind of operation covered by the Phillies insurance plan?
- Evan Longoria says the Rays have a better attitude without James Shields and B.J. Upton. Shields says he's hurt by Longoria's comments. As far as I can tell, Longoria's point is that Shields and Upton were somehow psychologically scarred by having been Devil Rays and that with them gone, the Devil Ray era is officially over. I think Longoria should stick to playing third base and stop playing Dr. Phil.
- The St. Louis Cardinals are in talks to purchase the Memphis Redbirds. There are some obstacles to overcome and the city of Memphis is going to have to put up some money, but that would likely put the financially-troubled minor league franchise on solid ground. This is also a trend in baseball these days of parent clubs purchasing their Triple-A affiliate.
- The South Bend Silver Hawks shamelessly wish they were from Iowa. Pink is our thing, buddy.
- The White Sox insist they are not defined by their mistakes.
- There have been reports that the Orioles have approached Matt Wieters about a contract extension. Wieters knows, and wants to know, nothing about this. He says talk to Scott Boras, his agent, and don't bother me until you've got a deal.
- Signing Elvis Andrus to an extension gives the Rangers options, writes Evan Grant.
- At FanGraphs, Dave Cameron examines the possibility of a Jurickson Profar for Oscar Taveres trade. Bottom line is that the Cardinals would be much more motivated to make such a deal than the Rangers.
- The Dodgers have three more starting pitchers than they need.
- Vladimir Guerrero is a Long Island Duck.
- The Marlins are running out of first basemen.
- Trevor Bauer is replacing Scott Kazmir in the Indians rotation.
- Mike Piazza is set to make his ballet debut.
- Finally, Robert Weintraub has an excerpt in Slate.com from his new book on baseball at the end of World War II. The excerpt is a fascinating story about an integrated baseball game two years before Jackie Robinson. Hey Robert, if you're willing to send me a review copy . . . Heck, even a digital download.
The Iowa Hawkeyes lost the NIT Final to Baylor, 74-54. The dream is dead.
And tomorrow will be a better day than today, Buster, because Al will be back before then!