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What special skills does it take to be the Opening Day starter?

Feb 25, 2013, 11:03 AM EDT

Chicago Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija delivers a pitch against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning of their MLB Cactus League spring training baseball game in Mesa

Patrick Mooney of reports that, because Matt Garza may not be healthy by then, Jeff Samardzjia could be the Cubs’ Opening Day starter. Here’s what Dale Sveum says about that:

“We’re still waiting to see what happens with ‘Garz,’ how he comes along,” Samardzija said. “They know where I stand on it and how I feel. But it’s nice to have a few guys that are capable of doing it. Hopefully, it gets decided out on the field instead of in the training room.

It’s a baseball game. What starting pitcher who makes a 25-man roster is not “capable” of doing that?  I realize being named the Opening Day starter is often an honor, but I sure hope we’re not allowing our fetishization of that to creep beyond the narrow topic of Jack Morris’ Hall of Fame credentials.

It’s one game, often a weird one, played in cold weather, after a bunch of festivities which often delay the start time and in front of a sellout crowd regardless of the team’s quality or the game’s actual strategic import.

Indeed, it would probably make sense to put your cannon fodder out on Opening Day. He’s not gonna hurt the gate at least.

  1. thon - Feb 25, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    Actually that’s what Jeff Samardzija had to say about it. But pretty close–same team.

  2. dowhatifeellike - Feb 25, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    I think the OD starter gets to carry the “#1” mantle for the rest of the season. So for some, especially in a contract year, it might matter.

    As far as what it takes, you have to have a lot of grit and some hustle with a splash of gumption.

  3. Ben - Feb 25, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    “What starting pitcher who makes a 25-man roster is not “capable” of doing that?”

    Any Twins pitcher.

  4. Old Gator - Feb 25, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    It requires nerves of steel, the ability to see into the mind of the opposing batter, powerful gasoline, a clean windshield, and a shoe shine. Over.

  5. cosanostra71 - Feb 25, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    If you play for the Diamondbacks, it requires being the grittiest player in the history of baseball.

  6. goirishgo - Feb 25, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    It takes an old police cruiser, a full tank of gas, half pack of cigarettes and sunglasses.

  7. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Feb 25, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    The ability to pitch better than the opposing team’s best pitcher? The Cubs open against the Pirates, so the bar is not too high here.

    • stlouis1baseball - Feb 25, 2013 at 3:35 PM

      Valid point C.C. I will counter that with mentioning the Pirates were very competitive the first half of the last two years.

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