Friday's (Real) Frosty Mug

This probably wasn't the managerial debut Ron Roenicke had in mind.

Some things to read while learning the lingo.

If you had asked me yesterday to make a list of things I didn't want to be the top story today, it might have looked something like this:

  1. Another injury.
  2. A blown save.
  3. Mark Kotsay.

Thankfully #1 was not an issue, but unfortunately #2 is. Presented with a 6-3 lead entering the ninth inning yesterday, John Axford allowed four runs to score (including a three run walkoff home run for Ramon Hernandez) as the Reds beat the Brewers 7-6. Adam McCalvy talked to Axford after the game, and he said he plans to "let it go" and move forward.

As you might expect, blowing a three run lead in the ninth on Opening Day has led to a fair amount of speculation that the sky might be falling on John Axford. Jordan stopped by last night to share some encouraging notes from the closer's performance. Adam McCalvy said it's "way, way too early" to start comparing Axford and Derrick Turnbow.

With that said, the Brewers could have been out of the inning before the long ball if not for a somewhat bizarre defensive play. On a slow roller hit to third Casey McGehee tried to tag out Brandon Phillips between second and third, but Phillips avoided the tag (and, depending on how you ask, may have run out of the baseline). As a result, all runners were safe. Jon Heyman said he feels bad for Axford, and says the Brewers were unlucky not to get an out on the play.

The sudden loss overshadowed a pretty impressive feat: Rickie Weeks and Carlos Gomez led off yesterday's game with back-to-back home runs, making Weeks the first Brewer ever to lead off the season with a home run and the Brewers the first team to go back-to-back to open a season since the 1969 Reds. The '69 Reds, by the way, also lost the game.

Yuniesky Betancourt went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in his Brewer debut yesterday. Bill from The Platoon Advantage selected the Brewers' shortstop as one of six players that won't be a regular for their current team by season's end.

Wil Nieves was Ron Roenicke's somewhat surprising choice to catch yesterday's game. Roenicke told reporters that Nieves and George Kottaras will split time "based on performance," and Kottaras will start against Bronson Arroyo on Sunday.

As if you needed a reminder that yesterday's game still counts, Sully Baseball says the loss could haunt Milwaukee in September.

Other notes from the field:

It's unfortunate that we needed them this early, but it's time for the voices of reason to come out. Here's Josh Wussow of Inside Wisconsin Sports:

Final thoughts: First loss doesn't change outlook. #Brewers bats, bullpen, starters will still be good. All showed up at some point today.

And Howie Magner of Milwaukee Magazine:

Fully appreciate anger & angst. Just saying if you thought #Brewers were playoff team yesterday, 1 harsh result shouldn't change your mind.

Our own Hangwith'em Rach isn't worried yet either.

Ryan Braun had a solid Opening Day yesterday, walking twice and singling in addition to the home run I mentioned above. Joe Posnanski listed him as the tenth best player in baseball for 2011. Zack Greinke (#29) also cracked the top 32.

Bob Uecker was back in the booth yesterday to start his 41st season behind the microphone. Tom Haudricourt talked to Uecker about the differences in his health between this season and last.

There's a reason some fans avoid the home opener. Tyler Maas of The AV Club profiles the five people you'll (unfortunately) meet on Opening Day. (h/t PocketDoppler)

In the minors:

  • The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers unveiled a cool new feature yesterday: They're releasing a smartphone app that will allow you to see more about the game, interact with the team and other fans and order concessions from your seat. I'm excited to try it out on Thursday at their home opener.
  • Cody Scarpetta and Austin Ross are in town for the Rising Stars game, and John Steinmiller has a photo of them being interviewed by Vince Vitrano and Susan Kim.
  • The Prospect Madness finals at Bernie's Crew feature Tyler Thornburg and Andre Lamontagne. Wait, what?

Today in predictions, previews and such:

If you're just checking in for the first time this morning, you might have missed J. Scott Loomer having a little fun with April Fools Day. Thanks to him for taking the time, and be sure to check out his stuff at Pastkast.com, @tweetsfrom1982, @tweetsfrom1987 and @brewcrewlive.

Of course, we're not the only site taking advantage of the day. Among the pranks I've seen so far, my favorites have come from Camden Chat, Nationals Enquirer and Royals Review.

Around baseball:

Dodgers: Designated pitcher Jon Link and first baseman John Lindsey for assignment.
Giants:
Signed second baseman Freddy Sanchez to a one year, $6 million contract extension through 2012.
Phillies: Signed infielder Ronnie Belliard to a minor league deal.
Pirates: Designated pitcher Ramon Aguero for assignment.
Rays: Signed pitcher Wade Davis to a four year contract extension with $12.6 million guaranteed through 2014 and club options for 2015, 2016 and 2017.

The fact that the Rays are spending money at all is news at this point. Rays Index notes that their Opening Day payroll is at $41.8 million, down over 40% from 2010.

Each spring we have a conversation about playing Opening Day in cold weather cities, and this year is no exception: Today's season opener between the White Sox and Indians could be postponed after six inches of snow fell overnight in Cleveland.

Speaking of home openers: Flip Flop Fly Ball has today's best graphic.

'Tis the season for ridiculous "on pace for" stories. Eric Seidman of FanGraphs has a nice look at the sample size needed to begin trusting rate stats.

Speaking of statistical anomalies, Plunk Everyone is using the US activity in Libya to predict a 35 HBP season in 2011.

Actually, here's another weird stat. If I'd given you all morning to think about it, would you have guessed that Livan Hernandez (9) is the active leader in Opening Day starts?

Earlier this week we had a conversation about the future of The Adventures of Joe West, and the possibility that the series had run its course. Fear not, though, as West's shenanigans continue with the ejection of Old Man Winter.

Now, if you'll excuse me, Bobby Cox is prank calling me again.

Drink up.

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