There is something comforting to me about baseball games and box scores that come with Opening Day.
Much like grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup on a rainy day, with a fire roaring in the background and a great old movie on the tube, boxes and statistics somehow bring me back to my childhood. In fact, I get an ever-present mental image of Ron Fairly's 1963 baseball card--one that was tough to get at the time--in my fingers when I was 10. Just looking at the card, and flipping it over and staring at the numbers occupied me for quite awhile when I finally got one.
I don't really know why the numbers and cards were--or are--so mesmerizing to this day, but, with the first games and statistics of the season, here I am again, content to look at standings and numbers and player's lines, trying to turn the integers into some sort of roto Philosopher's Stone.
Of course, there are those early-season joys and tears, too, and I was more than struck by this the first couple of days of the 2014 season when just about every closer I have experienced melt down majora.
Starting with Sergio Romo, who got a save, but allowed a run in his first appearance, followed by Glen Perkins, who blew a game, but at least redeemed himself the next day. Not to mention Jonathan Papelbon, who has an ERA of 20.25 so far, also over two appearances.
I guess at this point I should be grateful I don't own Jim Johnson, who also has managed two appearances, and over one inning boasts a 45.00 ERA to go with his 0-2 record.
When I start thinking of the black hole of saves, it reminds me of the turn of the century--remember back to the millennium--when I really thought Matt Anderson, the hard-throwing newly-anointed closer of the Tigers, was my guy.
I owned Anderson in 2001 in a few leagues, watching in amazement as he allowed six hits and a walk which resulted in seven runs over one-third of an inning against the Twins on April 11, 2001.
Anderson did finish the season with 22 saves that year, to go with 52 strikeouts over 56 innings, but he also allowed 56 hits and 18 walks (1.321), and a 4.82 ERA.
Not great, but the 0-1, 3.80 record with 14 saves over the second half made me think that Anderson had transcended his difficulties, so I picked him up again for the 2002 season.
Well, almost a year to the date after that ugly performance against Minnesota--on April 14, 2002--Anderrson repeated the performance, once again versus the Twins, allowing four hits, a walk and a homer over zero innings.
Anderson went on the disabled list for the rest of the season, running a stat line of 2-1, 9.00 and no saves over 11 innings, and that was pretty much the end of his career.
It is odd in that I sort of imagined that after those failures, Anderson would return as the American League's Kyle Farnsworth (at the time) and deliver a decent finale to his career.
Alas, it was never to be.
I am not sure if I find solace in the history of Matt Anderson, alluding it to the 2014 perils of Romo, Papelbon and Perkins, but as with the Proustian host of memories that spin through my brain early in the season, with the return of the first games and numbers of the year.
Life is good.