Ask any of baseball's legendary World Series Winners, Most Valuable Players, Silver Sluggers, Gold Glovers, and Bird-Exploders, and they'll tell you that there is no honor higher than the one granted to the pitcher who is named a team's opening day starter.
It's well known in baseball folklore that every year Steve Carlton was named the opening day starter for the Phillies, he ate off one his fingers in excitement. Roy Halladay would always add a celebratory piano to his back while running up his small mountain. When Cliff Lee got the call in 2014, he went completely nuts and nodded at a stranger. The guy was looking in the other direction and fortunately, for Lee's sake, his outburst went undetected.
The point is, deciding who will be bestowed the privilege is an ancient tradition teams turn into quite the spectacle as spring training enters its final week, culminating in Opening Day Starter Day, a day that has come to be known as "Opening Day." But as the Phillies inch closer to whatever this thing is gonna be, they have remained strangely quiet. Only yesterday was there a cryptic clue offered by Stephen Gross of the Morning Call:
Ryne Sandberg when asked about officially naming Cole Hamels the Opening Day starter: "It's a secret."— Stephen Gross (@SteveGrossMCall) March 26, 2015
Thanks to Gross' investigation, we at least have Sandberg's mysterious statement on which one of the Phillies' only deserving pitcher he was going to choose. But still the fact remains: Someone will have to take the mound in a week, and whether or not Ryne Sandberg - in only his second year - has simply forgotten his responsibility, that will remain the case. Will Cole Hamels get to see his name next to Kyle Kendrick's, and other day one legends of the game? Stay tuned.
The Phillies have clearly sent a message to those who thought the 2015 Phillies would lack intensity: Shut up.